The Akademie der Künste in Berlin has said it will award its annual Konrad Wolf Prize to Julian Assange. Though the Australian activist and founder of WikiLeaks is unlilkely to be able to attend the October ceremony as he is currently held at Belmarsh top security prison in London.
Since 2019 he has been fighting attempts to extradite him to the US, where he is charged with the hacking – abetting former army private and whistleblower Chelsea Manning – of one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of America.
The jury said: ‘Julian Assange’s work and positions have focused our attention on illegal state actions, injustices, murders and war crimes – things that were meant to remain concealed and obscured from the public view, from the citizens – from us. Assange’s work has resulted in the disclosure of financial flows, hidden accounts and official e-mail correspondence, has uncovered images of murdered unarmed civilians and journalists in Iraq by members of the U.S. Army, disclosed arbitrary killings of civilians in Afghanistan and secret service projects aimed at the manipulation of public opinion, has brought to light the humiliation and torture in photos taken by laughing perpetrators at Abu Ghraib Prison and exposed the inhumane conditions of the still operational detention centre at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, which reminded us of what waterboarding means. The list goes on. Julian Assange’s Wikileaks publicizes information about this – our – reality, so that we as citizens can recognize this reality and take action. ‘We open governments’ so that we know. It is a democratic act. Assange is a worthy laureate, who with his Wikileaks project has exposed government activity, wartime lies, war crimes and cover-ups. His work embodies journalistic awareness-building at its best, and aims to change the world by democratic means – something that is direly needed.’
Previous winners of the prize, which comes with a €5,000 fund, include Mauretanian-Malian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako, the director and actor Alexander Lang, and the documentary filmmaker Heidi Specogna.