11.7.2023, 11 Uhr

Konrad Wolf Prize 2023 goes to Julian Assange

The Akademie der Künste is to award the Konrad Wolf Prize 2023 to the journalist, author and publisher Julian Assange. The prize, endowed with 5,000 euros, is named after the film director and long-standing President of the East German Akademie der Künste. This year's jury consisted of Thomas Heise and Nele Hertling, both of whom are members of the Senate of the Akademie der Künste, as well as the screenplay author Thomas Wendrich.

The jury statement

“Julian Assange’s work and positions have focused our attention on illegal state actions, injustices, murders and war crimes – things that were meant to remain in the dark, concealed and obscured from the public view, from the citizens – from us. Assange’s work has resulted in the disclosure of the cash flows of powerful figures, hidden accounts and official e-mail correspondences, has uncovered images of murdered unarmed civilians and journalists in Iraq by members of the U.S. Army, has disclosed the arbitrary killings of civilians in Afghanistan and secret service projects aimed at the manipulation of public opinion, has brought to light the humiliation and torture in souvenir photos taken by laughing perpetrators at Abu Ghraib Prison and exposed the inhumane conditions of the still operational detention centre at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, reminding us of what waterboarding means. The list goes on. Julian Assange's WikiLeaks publicizes information about this – our – reality so that we as citizens can recognize this reality and take a position. “We open governments” so that we know. It is a democratic act. Assange is a worthy laureate, who with his WikiLeaks project has exposed illegal government activity, wartime lies, war crimes and cover-ups. His work embodies journalistic awareness-building at its best, and aims to change the world by democratic means – something that is direly needed …For the last four years, Julian Assange has been incarcerated in the Belmarsh High Security Prison in London. There he is subject to treatment that former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2016–2022) Nils Melzer recognised and documented in detail as torture. The United States is calling for his extradition, with the intent of prosecuting him in the U.S. for espionage. If convicted, he faces a prison term of 175 years. His attempted appeal against the court-approved extradition to the United States has been rejected. The silence of the German government is deafening.”

The Akademie der Künste has in recent years repeatedly called for the German government and political leaders in Europe to secure Julian Assange’s release. Julian Assange is being made an example of in order to intimidate and weaken the fourth estate. Journalists, publicists and whistleblowers must be protected, as they perform an essential service to society.

The award ceremony for the Konrad Wolf Prize will take place at the Akademie der Künste at Hanseatenweg on Sunday, 22 October 2023. Further information is to follow. Laureates in previous years are the Mauretanian-Malian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako, the director and actor Alexander Lang and the documentary filmmaker Heidi Specogna.