Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has branded Australian PM Julia Gillard a “coward” and her government “craven” in his Walkley Awards acceptance speech for 'Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.'
The highly coveted accolade, judged by industry peers, was awarded to Wikileaks in "recognition of long-term commitment and achievement in the Australian media".
Judges said that Wikileaks had shown a courageous and controversial commitment to journalism, enhanced transparency and accountability and democratised the process.
“We should not only support them but salute them for their ingenious, tenacious pursuit of truth,” one Walkley judge said.
The award was accepted by Assange via a pre-recorded message, as he is still under house arrest in the UK awaiting news of whether he will be extradited to Sweden for trial.
“They say that telling the truth is no way to win friends and that the Australian people don’t care about the truth, but they are wrong,” Assange begun.
He thanked the Australian people, Australian journalists and the Walkley Foundation for “standing by Wikileaks in our hour of need, not in five years time, but now when it counts.”
He added, “we, journalists, are at our best when we share with activists and lawyers the goal of exposing illegality and wrong-doing; when we help to hold others to account. This award is a sign of encouragement to our people, and other people, who labour under difficult conditions in this task.”
He said that Wikileaks' work “has given us a lot of powerful enemies and given us good friends…it has bought out the best in people, courage, loyalty, compassion and strength.”
Categorically excluded from that friend list was PM Julia Gillard who he suggested should “stop sucking up to power.”
“The Gillard government has shown its true colours in relation to how it’s handled US pressure on WikiLeaks,” he said.
“Australian journalists are courageous, the Australian population is supportive, but Julia Gillard is a cowardly Australian Prime Minister.”
Assange described Gillard and the Attorney General’s lack of support for his plight and their clear allegiance with the US government view as “craven behaviour,” and “embarrassing.”
“Does she really think she can become Obama’s deputy and run of with his job and his friends, like she has done before?,” he questioned
He told the true believers to not despair, “as long as we can publish, and as long as the internet remains free, we will continue to fight back, armed with the truth.” ®