Julian Assange awarded top UK Journalism Prize

WikiLeaks founder wins prestigious prize for journalism.

The internet activist and founder of whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, has been awarded the highly prestigious Martha Gelhorn Prize for Journalism 2011.

The prize is presented annually to a journalist "whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda, or 'official drivel', as Martha Gelhorn called it."

The judges ruled unanimously in favour of Julian Assange, whose work in exposing classified information to the public was described as "a truth-telling that has empowered people all over the world."

"As publisher and editor [of WikiLeaks], Julian Assange represents that which journalists once prided themselves in - he's brave, determined, independent: a true agent of people not of power."

WikiLeaks rose to prominence in early 2010 when it published documents on the American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In November 2010, the website published a cache of several thousand U.S. Diplomatic cables that revealed the diploma workings behind American foreign relations. This lead to the denouncement of the website and its founder by several high-profile politicisans, including U.S. Secretary of state Hilary Clinton and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

Assange is currently residing in Britain, where in February 2011 he appealed a decision by English courts to extradite him to Sweden for questioning in relation to sexual assault allegations.

The panel also awarded a Martha Gelhorn Special Award for Journalism to Umar Cheema, of the International Times of Pakistan, Charles Clover, Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times, and Jonathan Cook, the independent journalist based in Nazareth.