Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is being kept in a prison cell, but that has not stopped him from winning an award for raising the plight of the Catalans.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is being kept in a prison cell, but that has not stopped him from winning an award for raising the plight of the Catalans.

Julian Assange wins award from his prison cell

Despite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange being kept in his prison cell for up to 23 hours a day in London's high security Belmarsh jail, it has not stopped him winning a major award.

The Catalan Dignity Commission has honoured him with its 2019 Dignity Prize for raising awareness around the world about the plight of the Catalans in the lead up to the 2017 independence vote.

Announced on Friday, the prize recognises his efforts to correct misreporting of events and to provide live video updates to the world of the peaceful Catalan protesters and the brutal crackdown on them by Spanish police.

Footage of Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorean embassy. Picture: News360
Footage of Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorean embassy. Picture: News360

The advice Assange gave to Catalans on how to use apps to avoid Spanish Government shut downs was also acknowledged.

The prizes which began in 2002, reward, symbolically, the people and organisations who have worked towards protecting Civil Rights and heightening historical memory and democratic values in any area of public life.

Assange's mother Christine said "This deeply meaningful Dignity Award from the Catalan Dignity Commission in gratitude for Julian's courageous journalism, recognises the essence of his belief and practice, that a fierce free, truthful and independent media holding Governments and other powerful entities accountable to the people, is the most important protection we have to defend freedom and democracy."

Assange, who was at the time under the protection of the Ecuadorean Government and living in the Embassy in London, responded to the despair of Catalans when the Spanish Government disabled voting apps, by tweeting instructions on how Catalan citizens could use other apps to find out information about voting. Millions of people were able to vote as a result.

He also tweeted information about the historical background to the struggle for independence by the Catalans, giving context to the referendum vote.

Ms Assange said people were glued to his twitter account watching the live updates.

Assange himself maintained he was not taking sides on whether Catalonia should secede or not, only that peaceful legal democratic processes should be respected.

 

 

 

 

He undertook to help the Catalans despite the risk it would create his own problems with the Ecuadorean Government.

As a result, Assange's support for the democratic process led to a backlash from Spain sparking concerns within Ecuador's government.

Soon after Assange's internet connection was cut off and his access to visitors stopped.

Assange has a long a history of helping people get access to internet services. At age 23 he founded one of the first internet provider services in Australia, the non-profit Suburbia, run by volunteers to help underprivileged people get internet access.

Ms Assange said her son also spent a lot of time visiting community groups to show them how to use the internet.

Julian Assange was last year denied further asylum from the Ecuadorean Government. Picture: Jack Taylor
Julian Assange was last year denied further asylum from the Ecuadorean Government. Picture: Jack Taylor

"He has always cared about people having access to information, and believes in core values that underpin freedom and democracy".

Assange helped the Catalans while he was still detained without charge inside the Ecuador Embassy, and prevented by a 24/7 police guard which blocked him from taking up his legal political asylum in Ecuador.

He was granted asylum in 2012, to protect his life and liberty from US threats.

Assange, an Australian citizen, is facing 175 years prison if extradited to the US and convicted on espionage charges.

The unprecedented prosecution relates to the publication of documents provided to WikiLeaks by whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Assange attracted the attention of the United States when Wikileaks and several media outlets published hundreds of thousands of secret US documents and a video about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan which contained evidence of war crimes.

 

Julian Assange as a toddler with his mother Christine Picture: Christine Assange/ News360
Julian Assange as a toddler with his mother Christine Picture: Christine Assange/ News360

 

Julian Assange and son Daniel celebrating Christmas. Picture: Christine Assange/ News360
Julian Assange and son Daniel celebrating Christmas. Picture: Christine Assange/ News360

 

MORE:

Assange's mum reveals her agony

Assange testifies in spying case

Secret video of Pamela Anderson with Julian Assange

 

Ms Assange said he sought and was granted asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012 because of US threats against him for his work with Wikileaks.

But last year, the new President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, reportedly under pressure from the US, declined to give him further asylum and he was dragged out of the Embassy and detained in Belmarsh Prison ahead of extradition proceedings to the US.

He has been confined to his cell for almost 24 hours a day, in the medical wing at Belmarsh.

In August, Assange was transferred to the health ward after his mental and physical health deteriorated.

 

Julian Assange protesters set up out side Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot’s Office at Tweed Heads. Picture: Supplied
Julian Assange protesters set up out side Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot’s Office at Tweed Heads. Picture: Supplied

Last year more than 100 doctors from around the world put the Morrison government on notice that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's health is deteriorating so rapidly, he might die in jail.

The doctors are concerned that the psychological stress he has been under - which is akin to psychological torture is manifesting in physical ailments and he could suffer a stroke, cardiac arrest or other fatal health problem at any time


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