The whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks, has been honoured at Australia's premier journalism awards for releasing of "an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup" which has had "an undeniable impact". The Walkley Awards are the Australian equivalent of the Pulitzers: that nation’s most prestigious award for excellence in journalism. Last night, the Walkley Foundation awarded its highest distinction — for “Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism” to WikiLeaks, whose leader, Julian Assange, is an Australian citizen.
“WikiLeaks applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup,” the Walkley trustees said in bestowing the award Sunday evening. “Its revelations, from the way the war on terror was being waged, to diplomatic bastardry, high-level horse-trading and the interference in the domestic affairs of nations, have had an undeniable impact.”
What makes this award so notable is that the United States for exactly the same reasons the Foundation cited in honoring WikiLeaks’ journalism achievements has spent the last year trying to criminalize and destroy the group, with some success. Showing the true colors of America’s political class, U.S. politicians like Dianne Feinstein plotted to prosecute WikiLeaks for its journalism and Joe Lieberman thuggishly demanded that private corporations cut off all funds to the group (most of which complied), while others, like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, branded them Enemy Combatants and called for them to be treated like Terrorists. Meanwhile, the Obama administration while parading around the world as defenders of Internet freedom and a free press harassed its supporters with laptop seizures at airports and Twitter subpoenas. Recall that the Pentagon, all the way back in a top secret 2008 report, declared WikiLeaks which also received the 2009 award from Amnesty International for excellence in New Media an enemy of the state and plotted how to destroy it.
Assange has spent much of the last year under virtual house arrest in Britain since he was detained in December 2010 over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two women in Sweden. He has strongly denied the allegations against him, claiming they are politically motivated and linked to the activities of WikiLeaks. The former computer hacker is currently appealing a decision against his extradition to Sweden to face the charges.