Brussels, 31/01/2022 – The Pirates in the European Parliament have submitted the nomination of Julian Assange for the Nobel Peace Prize to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. For the Pirates, the case of Assange, who is currently imprisoned in the United Kingdom, is a symbol for the oppression of freedom of speech and the public’s right to information.
Julian Assange is an Australian journalist, activist, whistleblower and founder of WikiLeaks, a platform which has made millions of confidential documents available to the public since 2006. Leaks published by the non-profit organisation covered the US involvement in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen and the work of secret services, but WikiLeaks also released information on corruption and crimes in countries such as Turkey, Russia, China and Peru.
Pirate Party MEP Markéta Gregorová comments:
“The story of Julian Assange is highly symbolic for me. It is about the fight for freedom of speech, of the press, for the protection of journalists and all those who bring information to the public. Julian Assange has exposed a number of serious practices committed by the US intelligence services and the military. His prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917 is practically a persecution. Punishing someone for publishing information in the public interest sets a dangerous precedent. Protecting journalists, their lives and their work is a fundamental democratic principle.”
Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer comments:
”We nominate Julian Assange for his achievements and revelations, but the detention and prosecution of Assange also set an extremely dangerous precedent for all journalists, media actors, and freedom of the press. No journalist should be prosecuted for publishing ‘state secrets’ of public interest because this is their job.”
In the United States, Assange faces up to 175 years in jail. He has lived in various countries for security reasons, spending time at the Ecuadorian embassy in London from 2012 to 2019, where he was granted political asylum. In 2019, the US asked the UK for his extradition and he has since been imprisoned in the UK’s Belmarsh prison. In December 2021, the British High Court agreed to his extradition to the US on the condition that he would not be placed in a maximum security prison. This is because expert reports indicate that his mental health is weakened and he may attempt suicide. Assange has challenged the decision on his extradition, on which the Supreme Court will decide again.
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