Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) “It is a pity for Julian Assange. The Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize 2022 to the brave people of Ukraine. Our congratulations go to all of them, however in our eyes the moral winner remains the founder of Wikileaks.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is the highest European award for those who defend human rights. In the past it was awarded to Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid, as well as to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani blogger who demanded recognition of the right to education banned by the Taliban. Both went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
By exposing war crimes and systematic human rights violations, Julian Assange has informed world public opinion about the abuses perpetrated by so-called democracies. It is thanks to the Wikileaks files that we discovered the hell of Guantanamo where terrorist suspects were imprisoned and tortured. If those practices are no longer used today, it is also thanks to him.
For all these reasons, Assange has been fighting an obvious judicial persecution, which has led him to spend the last three and a half years in a maximum security prison in Great Britain.
The legal persecution against Assange, which began in 2010, is an obvious attempt to strike one to warn a hundred. If the American Espionage Act were to be applied for the first time against Assange, who is an Australian journalist and not a dangerous Russian spy, we would risk fuelling the so-called spiral of silence where journalists will self-censor themselves in order not to bother the powerful. Truths would never be brought out and so even democratic governments would be guaranteed wide impunity. What message would we send to citizens and dictatorships around the world?”
We have appealed to all political groups to support Julian Assange’s candidacy. Our battle to defend his rights is clear and unambiguous. As 5 Stars Movement, we collected signatures among parliamentarians to present his candidacy and votes to include him among the finalists. As Stella Morris, Assange’s wife, recalled, the Sakharov Prize 2022 would have saved his life because it would have forced British and American justice to confront the EU on the recognition of civil rights and democracy.
Our battle for his release does not end here. Britain will not be able to oppose the European Parliament’s invitation to all Sakharov Prize finalists to attend the award ceremony in Strasbourg on 14 December. In past editions, the presence of all three finalists or their representative is always been guaranteed. It would be a very serious fact if this right were to be denied and we will ensure that this will not happen. In fact, we will ask the European Parliament to welcome Assange as a free citizen”.