Former 7.30 host Kerry O’Brien has called for journalists to unite to protect press freedoms in a powerful opening speech for the Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
- O’Brien warned about the dangers of restricted press, saying it could lead to fascism
- He said journalists need to call out any abuses of power
- O’Brien also called on the Government to work to bring Julian Assange back to Australia
The Walkley Foundation presented WikiLeaks, with Assange is its editor, an award for its outstanding contribution to journalism in 2011.
Judges said Assange used new technology to “penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup”.
WikiLeaks in 2010 published classified military and diplomatic files about US bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Kerry O’Brien said “As we sit here tonight, Julian Assange is mouldering in a British prison awaiting extradition to the United States, where he may pay for their severe embarrassment with a life in prison,” O’Brien said.
“This Government could demonstrate its commitment to a free press by using its significant influence with its closest ally to gain his return to Australia.”
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