Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, has said that he intends to run for a seat in the Australian Senate in the 2013 federal election, and plans to form a WikiLeaks party. Another interview speaks of his health and the financial blockade of WikiLeaks.
Assange made the announcement from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been holed up for six months to avoid extradition to Sweden and possibly the US.
Assange told Fairfax Media that his plans to register the WikiLeaks political party were “significantly advanced” and added that “a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public” have expressed their availability to run for election on the party ticket.
This is all well and good, and he has the right to do this as an Australian citizen, but there is one problem. The fact that he is still stuck in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with no sign of being able to leave any time soon, as the UK government will not grant him safe passage.
Assange said, however, that this is only a minor obstacle, as it is “inevitable” that the US will eventually drop its investigation into WikiLeaks. “The building of political opposition to the persecution of a media organization” will lead the US Department of Justice to drop its espionage investigation: "Getting the US investigation dropped, that is our number-one priority," he said.
According to Assange, he is able to register as an overseas elector in New South Wales and Victoria, adding that a “strategic decision” will determine which state he chooses to represent. Reportedly, if Assange is elected, but unable to return to Australia, a nominee would occupy his seat.
Assange did say that he had been "quite encouraged" by series of published polls through the past two years that showed support for WikiLeaks had remained "consistently high".
In the meantime, Assange's father, back home in Australia, is backing his son's plans and is coordinating preparations for the party’s formation. A draft of the party’s constitution has also been submitted for legal review.
The registration of the party with the Australian Electoral Commission would require confirmation of at least 500 members who are listed on the electoral roll.
Assange says that the goal of the party would be to further advance WikiLeaks’ founding principles of promoting openness in government and politics, and to combat growing intrusions on individual privacy.
According to a poll run on the National Times website, Assange would apparently receive around 72% of the votes:
Poll on possibility of votes for Julian Assange run by the National Times.
Talking of his six month stay in the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange says that British police are waiting outside to arrest him and extradite him to Sweden to face questioning on sexual assault allegations.
“They’re squatting on the front door demanding the identity of everyone who comes in. It’s an outrageous violation of diplomatic practice,” he said.
Assange is convinced that extradition to Sweden would eventually lead to him being passed on to the US, where he would face espionage charges for the release of thousands of classified documents, including secret cables of the US State Department.
Health and the Financial Blockade against WikiLeaks:
In another interview with ABC Radio on Wednesday, Assange responded to reports that he has a chronic lung condition.
"I wouldn't necessarily go that far but the circumstances are difficult," he said.
He said that the Australian Government had offered limited help to him. "The Australian Government gave a list of numbers for doctors in the London area, that was all that they would do," he said.
However, he says that even though he has been at the embassy for six months, things could be worse: “One gets used to things. Other people are in much harsher conditions than I am…[the embassy] is certainly preferable to solitary confinement in Sweden or the United States,” he said.
"Two years under house arrest, going to the police station every day at a certain time with a manacle around my leg was worse," he added, saying that other people associated with WikiLeaks are under worse conditions, including Bradley Manning.
In the radio interview below, Assange also discusses the blockade against payments to WikiLeaks, which has been ongoing for some time.