Whistleblower site Wikileaks has scored the 2011 Walkley Award for "Most outstanding contribution to journalism".
A statement from the Walkley Foundation, which revealed the awards' 2011 winners on Sunday, reads: "While not without flaws, the Walkley Trustees believe that by designing and constructing a means to encourage whistleblowers, WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange took a brave, determined and independent stand for freedom of speech and transparency that has empowered people all over the world.
"And in the process, they have triggered a robust debate inside and outside the media about official secrecy, the public’s right to know, and the future of journalism."
Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, is currently in Britain fighting extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sex crimes. Assange's legal team is in the process of applying for leave to appeal to the supreme court against his extradition.
"We, journalists, are at our best when we share with activists and lawyers the goal of opposing illegality and wrongdoing," Assange said in a videoed speech accepting the award in England.
"When we help to hold others to account. This award is a sign of encouragement to our people and other people who labour under difficult conditions in this task. Our lives have been threatened, attempts have been made to censor us. Banks have attempted to cut off our financial lifeline. An unprecedented banking blockade have shown us that Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, the Bank of America and Western Union are mere instruments of Washington foreign policy. Censorship has in this manner been privatised…
"This time last year Julia Gillard commissioned an absurd, absurd all of government taskforce against us, comprising of ASIO, ASIS, the Department of Defence, the Attorney-General's Office and the Australian Federal Police. The prime minister falsely stated that Wikileaks had acted illegally… "
In his speech, Assange also mentioned the plight of Bradley Manning, the US soldier alleged to have been the source of material leaked to Wikileaks. Manning has been imprisoned in the US since mid-2010, much of that time in conditions that have provoked criticism from human rights advocates.
In May, Assange was awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation's gold medal for his "exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights". Previous recipients of the medal include the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.