Julian Assange will speak at the Oxford Union via video link later this month, it has been announced.

The WikiLeaks founder will make an appearance at the Sam Adams awards ceremony on Wednesday 23rd January. Assange won the award for “integrity in intelligence” in 2010.

The news follows last term’s cancellation of the planned Q&A session with Assange at the Cambridge Union due to “technical difficulties”. It later came to light that he would be speaking via video link at the Convention Camp conference in Hanover, Germany on that day instead.

Assange has been inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June last year to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.

In November, the Cambridge Union was heavily criticised by the CUSU Women’s Campaign for providing Assange with a platform to speak, arguing that it demonstrated the “trivialization of rape” within society. A petition to revoke the invitation was signed by more than 900 people.

There are already plans for demonstrations to take place on the same day as the event in protest against the Oxford Union’s decision to invite Assange. One of the organisers, Simone Webb, a PPE student at Hertford College, said: “I'm organising a protest because I don't believe that someone who is evading the legal system on rape charges, as Assange is, should be given a platform by the Oxford Union.”

The Oxford Union has not yet commented on its decision, but says in the new term card that Assange has “championed the principle of freedom of information” and “played a crucial role in shaping the international political landscape.” Webb, commenting on this, stated her anger that “…the Union have not, in their bio of Assange, mentioned the rape accusations at all. I hope that by organising a joint Oxford/London protest the message will be sent that rape allegations should be treated more seriously.”

UPDATE (23:00, 09/01/2013): 

The Oxford Union has confirmed that Assange will make a 20-minute speech, which will be followed by a Q&A session. In their press release, it states that "Mr Assange is clearly a figure who generates controversy for reasons ranging from the charges made against him in Sweden, to the perceived recklessness of some WikiLeaks activities. We would therefore encourage those who disagree with him, or with any of our other speakers, to participate in the Q&A session."

"We are keen that Mr Assange's presence does not overshadow the ceremony or the award itself, as indeed is Mr Assange himself. The focus of the day is on exposing institutional corruption and espousing freedom of speech, and it is in this capacity that Mr Assange will join our other speakers in presenting the award."

"Mr Assange is a thinker and activist who has made significant contributions to the debate on government transparency. It is hoped that institutional corruption, whistleblowing and freedom of speech can all be discussed without in any way sanctioning or condoning his alleged private actions."