LONDON, May 11 (UPI) -- An Australian group has awarded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange the Sydney Peace Prize, hailing him as a brave champion of human rights.
Assange received the gold medal from the Sydney Peace Foundation Tuesday in London, where he is fighting extradition to Sweden where he is wanted on rape charges, Computerworld reported.
"For 14 years we've awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, but only on three occasions in 14 years have made an exception to the rule and awarded a gold medal for 'exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights,'" foundation chief Stuart Rees said at the ceremony at the Frontline Club.
"By challenging centuries-old practices of government secrecy and by championing people's right to know, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have created the potential for a new order in journalism and in the free flow of information.
"Instead of demonizing an Australian citizen who has broken no law, the Australian government must stop shoring up Washington's efforts to behave like a totalitarian state. The treatment of alleged whistle-blower [U.S. Army Pvt.] Bradley Manning confirms a U.S. administration at odds with their commitment to universal human rights and intent on militaristic bullying."