November 15, 2023 — Julian Assange is awarded PEN Norway’s Ossietzky Prize for 2023 in recognition of his critical journalism and his commitment to exposing the abuse of power and war crimes.
Julian Assange’s wife and lawyer Stella Assange received the award on his behalf in a ceremony in Oslo, where she spoke alongside Jørgen Watne Frydnes, PEN Norway General Secretary, Dag Larsen, head of Norwegian PEN’s committee for imprisoned writers, Ann-Magrit Austenå, Norsk PEN’s chairman, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, writer and former Guantanamo prisoner, and Mads Andenæs, member of Norsk PEN’s Assange committee.
The jury’s justification reads:
“Julian Assange has, both as a publisher and editor, been instrumental in revealing severe war crimes committed by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the unlawful imprisonment and abuse of detainees at Guantanamo.
“Julian Assange’s efforts for the right to information have come at a high personal cost. For the last five years he has been imprisoned in the British high-security prison Belmarsh, with limited contact with his family and inadequate communication with his lawyers. His health has deteriorated significantly during his time in detention.
“The treatment that Julian Assange has been and is being subjected to can amount to violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibit any form of torture and inhuman treatment.
“Citizens’ right to information is a prerequisite for democracy. Without a democracy based on informed citizens, abuse of power and violations of the law cannot be corrected and changed. Julian Assange has defended the core of democracy. Like several predecessors, Julian Assange has made public essential documents in this sensitive area, a role that is often criticized but will be recognized as highly significant when history is to be written.”