Report: Assange sees legal defence in politics
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange regards his bid to become an Australian senator as a defence against potential criminal prosecution in the United States and Britain, a news website reported on Monday.
Assange spoke to The Conversation website at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he was granted asylum in June to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations.
If he wins a Senate seat at elections on September 24, Assange told the website that the US Department of Justice would drop its espionage investigation rather than risk a diplomatic row.
This August 19, 2012 file photo shows WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange making a statement to the media and supporters at a window of Ecuadorian Embassy in central London. A news website says Assange regards his bid to become an Australian senator as a defence against potential criminal prosecution in the United States and Britain. AP
The British government would follow suit, otherwise “the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still”, Assange told the website.
Assange supporters last week enrolled him to vote in Victoria state, a necessary step toward being nominated as a candidate.
Nominations for the Senate are likely to close on August 22, and the six-year term of office would begin on July 1, 2014.
Australians living overseas can enrol to vote and consequently run as a Senate candidate if they left Australia within the past three years and intend to return within six years of their date of departure.
Assange said he was last in Australia in June 2010.
Assange plans to register a new political party, the WikiLeaks Party, to run Senate candidates in several Australian states. He told the website he was sure the party would attract the minimum 500 fee-paying members required to be registered.
WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance spokeswoman Sam Castro said last week that if Assange was elected and was unable to take his Senate seat, another nominated WikiLeaks Party member would be chosen to fill the vacancy.
The party would run on a platform of transparency in government, she said.