Julian Assange Acceptance Speech – Read by Michael Ratner – 2013 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts – Speech Notes – PDF

Yoko Ono Lennon presents her “2013 Courage Awards for the Arts” to Julian Assange of Wikileaks in absentia. Accepting the award for Assange are Michael Ratner (2nd from left) and Balthasar Garzon Real (2nd from right). Daniel Ellsberg (left) and Foreign Minister of Ecuador Ricardo Patino  (Photo: Robin Martin)

2013 Julian Assange Courage Award Speech

  1. First of all, I want to thank Yoko Ono Lennon for her courage and spirit in granting me this award. A fine woman whose many actions define her. The test for all of us.
  2. People often ask me how I keep going. They ask as if my work was some kind of burden to me. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no greater pleasure than fighting for your principles. There is no greater pleasure than in fighting for those who have risked all to share your vision. And there is no greater pleasure than seeing those who you admire, in turn, move to fight for you.
  3. Even while the Embassy is still surrounded by armed police, my voice is free, and with my free voice I yell in favor of freedom of information and expression. Within the constraints of the UK surveillance operation outside, I am free to see my staff and my friends.
  4. Many have fought, and continue to fight to permit this basic liberty, and I am grateful to them.
  5. I want to thank the Ecuadorian people. I want to thank President Rafael Correa and Foreign Minister Patino for their courageous and unyielding support. Their stance strengthens, not just my rights, but the rights of political refugees everywhere. Support them.
  6. I dedicate this award to our courageous sources, supporters, and to my staff. Through their courage and wit they are revealing the true nature of our global human civilization. This is how we may reform it. Elevate it–and make it just beyond its humble origins.
  7. Their courage in documenting war crimes, gross human rights violations, and the corruption of our societies is unequaled.
  8. I want to thank all our anonymous volunteers, and all those volunteers from Anonymous. You are unseen in your work, but your work is far from unseen. But, I want to specifically thank our martyrs.
  9. Volunteer, Aaron Swartz, aged 26, Political activist, hounded to death, right here in New York last month, as part of the broader political crackdown against our ideals.
  10. Alleged source, now political prisoner Bradley Manning. Bradley is now two weeks away from 1000 days in prison. The longest pre-trial detention in US military history.
  11. Alleged source, now political prisoner Jeremy Hammond, detained without trial, right here in New York, for the last 336 days as of today.
  12. WikiLeaks banking blockade protesters, Christopher Weatherhead, aged 22, and Ashley Rhodes aged 28. Sentenced in the UK last week to 18 months and 7 months in prison respectively.
  13. I want to thank my lawyers, Baltasar Garzon and Michael Ratner, who are representing me here today, as they do every day. They together with our other lawyers in the US, Europe, Africa, Australia and Ecuador are part of the fight to make sure that our rights are respected, and WikiLeaks can continue its mission.
  14. With such courage, tenacity, love & support from our friends, silencing WikiLeaks remains, and will continue to remain, a fantasy. We will continue our fight to document the world, understand its institutions, and hold our civilization to a higher standard.

Thank you so much,

Julian Assange

Ecuadorian Embassy, London