Melbourne: Hounded worldwide, WikiLeaks
founder Julian Assange has been honoured back home by Sydney
Peace foundation with a gold medal for showing "exceptional
courage" and initiative in pursuit of human rights.
The honour was previously given only to the Dalai
Lama, Nelson Mandela and Japanese lay Buddhist leader Daisaku
Ikeda in the foundation`s 14-year history.
Assange has been chosen by the foundation to receive
a rare gold medal for peace with justice for showing
"exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human
rights", the media reports said here.
Foundation director Stuart Rees said Assange`s work
had challenged the old order of power in politics and
"Peace from our point of view is really about justice,
fairness and the attainment of human rights," Rees was quoted
as saying by Australian news agency AAP.
"Assange has championed people`s right to know and has
challenged the centuries-old tradition that governments are
entitled to keep the public in a state of ignorance."
Assange was informed of the award last month and said
it would be an "enormous pleasure and honour" to receive it,
The gold medal is distinct from the annual Sydney
Peace Prize awarded by the foundation.
By leaking thousands of US diplomatic cables, Assange
had made a historically significant contribution to the
operation of democracy, the Sydney Peace Foundation`s
"Wikileaks has exposed the extent to which
governments, the military and business all over the world have
used secrecy to cloak their real intentions and activities,"
The foundation said the award would be presented to
him in Sydney in mid-May or at a ceremony in London later in
the year, depending on his whereabouts.
Rees said the organisation would do everything
necessary to ensure the award was given to Assange in person.
Each of the previous gold medal recipients had been
given their awards in face-to-face ceremonies, he said.
"Even if we have to travel secretly and announce the
award later, we will do that," Rees said.
The Sydney Peace Foundation is a not-for-profit
organisation set up in 1998 within the University of Sydney
and aims to promote peace and justice in Australia.