Julian Assange shortlisted for prestigious human rights award after being nominated by more than 40 MEPs

Mr Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since being taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London three years ago

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been selected as one of three finalists for a prestigious EU human rights award.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Union Parliament to an individual or group who has dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights.

Assange’s wife Stella Assange said: “Julian has been imprisoned for almost four years in Britain’s harshest prison for his important work to end impunity for war crimes and bring about greater accountability by informing the public about the human cost of war.

“He faces 175 years if he is extradited for his publishing work. Julian’s work embodies the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and he is paying for it with his freedom.

Julian Assange
Julian Assange
Mr Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since being taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London three years ago
Mr Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since being taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London three years ago

“This cannot be allowed to continue or he will pay with his life. Upholding the Charter means taking a stand for Julian’s freedom.

“I am profoundly grateful to all the MEPs who have put Julian’s name forward.”

More than 40 MEPs nominated Julian Assange for this year’s prize.

The two other finalists are the “brave people of Ukraine, represented by their president, elected leaders, and civil society” and Colombia’s Truth Commission.

The winner will be announced on October 19.

Mr Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since being taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London three years ago.

He is fighting a lengthy legal battle to avoid extradition to the United States.