Transcribed by m_cetera
Thank you for this award for the outstanding contribution to journalism.
They say that telling the truth is no way to win friends. They say that the Australian people don’t care for the truth. Well, they’re wrong. The Australian people want to know the truth about war. They want to know who they can trust. They want to know how the world is shaped about them. They want to find a way through complexity and lies.
Yes, our work has given us a lot of powerful enemies. But it has also given us good friends. It has brought out the best in people: courage, loyalty, compassion, and strength. And tonight I want to thank you and the Walkley Foundation for showing these values, as journalists and as Australians, in standing by WikiLeaks in our hour of need; not in five years’ time, but today when it counts. And I want to thank all of those who have continued to stand by us—our sources, our donors, our defenders—people without whom we could do nothing.
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 labor under difficult conditions in this task. Our lives have been threatened, attempts have been made to censor us, banks have attempted to shut off our financial lifeline. An unprecedented banking blockade has shown us that Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, the Bank of America, and Western Union are mere instruments of Washington foreign policy. Censorship has in this manner been privatized. Powerful enemies are testing the water to see how much they can get away with, seeing how they can abuse the system that they’re integrated with to prevent scrutiny. Well, the answer is: they can get away with too much. I expected the hate-speech on Fox News, but not the calls by U.S. Senators for the extra-judicial assassination of myself and my staff. Neither did I expect that the United States would aggressively undermine its own Constitution to persecute me and my organization. But I can understand the Washington Elites’ reaction. Washington is waging a war against the truth. It was, after all, the truth about Washington and their friends that we revealed.
What I cannot understand is the craven behavior of the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It is embarrassing. Does she really think she can become Obama’s deputy and then run off with his friends and his job, in the manner that she did with Kevin Rudd and so many before him? It won’t work this time. The U.S. constitution won’t permit it. It is time Julia Gillard stops sucking up to power and started using the power she has to the benefit of the Australian people. This time last year, Julia Gillard commissioned an absurd, absurd whole of Government task force against us, comprising of ASIO, ASIS, the Department of Defense, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Australian Federal Police. The Prime Minister falsely stated that WikiLeaks had acted illegally. The AFP had to take the embarrassing role of correcting her. The Attorney General stated that he was looking in to cancelling my passport, while I was under dire circumstances. After pressure from the Australian people and the Australian media, McClellan decided not to saying, not that it was wrong, but that it was helpful for tracing my movements. When I was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for our work, the Australian High Commission refused to host it. These and other acts will be an infamous memory in Australian journalism.
We are smeared and attacked by powerful groups from the United States, including the U.S. State Department and the Bank of America. A grand jury in Washington has spent the best part of a year trying to indict me and our people for espionage. One of our alleged sources, the young intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, has been held in solitary confinement and under inhumane and degrading conditions. The UN Special Rapporteur for Torture and Amnesty International have equally been prevented from seeing him. I personally have spent over 350 days under house arrest. I have not been charged with any crime in any country, but my name is constantly smeared. Our supporters in the United States, in Great Britain, and in Europe have been arrested en masse with over 78 raids on various individuals.
The reaction to WikiLeaks has demonstrated that, in the West, such attacks are no less vicious than in other parts of the world. They are simply more sophisticated. Washington has become an empire, not only of force, but of lies. The Australian Government has refused to say whether it would block my extradition to the United States from Australia, but it has acknowledged that it has the political discretion to do so. The Gillard Government has shown its true colors in relation to how it’s handled U.S. pressure on WikiLeaks.
The Australian journalists are courageous, the Australian people are supportive, but Julia Gillard is a cowardly Australian Prime Minister. As Australians we shall not despair; as long as we can speak out, as long as we can publish, and as long as the internet remains free, we will continue to fight back, armed with the truth.