Julian Assange to run for Australian senate as head of WikiLeaks Party

BRISBANE, Australia — Julian Assange said Thursday that he had founded a political party, named WikiLeaks after his anti-secrecy organization, and would contest a seat in the Australian Senate in upcoming national elections, Australia's ABC reported.

Assange nominated his party's seven other candidates via the WikiLeaks website from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been evading extradition for more than a year. They include academics, journalists and human rights activists.

The Australian election is yet to be called by Australia's reinstated prime minister, Kevin Rudd, but must be held sometime this year.

The WikiLeaks Party's policies include a demand that the ruling Labor Government be transparent about its asylum policy, and that people held in immigration detention are held there for no longer than 45 days, the ABC reported. They are also concerned with press freedom and climate change.

In an editorial published by the Murdoch press, Assange wrote:

"WikiLeaks Party's core values of transparency, accountability and justice are the template against which we will examine any important issues for Australians: tax reform, asylum-seekers, climate change policy and more. We will not accept legislation or government policy that is based on inaccurate, poorly disclosed or inadequate information. In this way our positions will always reflect fairness, good government policy and practice, and protecting the interests of all Australians."

Assange said one of the party's first actions would be to insist on full disclosure of Australia's new arrangement with neighboring Papua New Guinea to house asylum seekers who attempt to travel to Australia by boat in detention centers there.

Assange told The New York Times in a telephone interview that he could competently run a campaign for an election in Australia from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

"It’s not unlike running the WikiLeaks organization. We have people on every continent. We have to deal with over a dozen legal cases at once. However, it’s nice to be politically engaged in my home country."

A spokeswoman for the party, Samantha Cross, told the Fairfax media that Assange wanted his WikiLeaks Party to "keep the bastards honest."

She also revealed the logistics behind being an international fugitive from justice and an elected official in the home country.

''He talked about wanting to be back in Australia to take up his seat. He was hopeful that that would occur. If it doesn't, the party will nominate a running mate.''

Australian law allows a vacant Senate seat to be filled by a member of the same party, unlike the House of Representatives — which would require another round of voting.

Assange has resisted being taken to face questioning over an alleged sexual assault in Sweden, from where he fears he could be extradited to the United States to face serious charges in relation to WikiLeaks' 2010 release of US State Department diplomatic cables.

Vice President Joseph Biden has added his voice to US criticism of Assange, labeling him a "high-tech terrorist" whose whistleblowing website has harmed American interests and put lives in danger.

Assange has been outspoken in his support for Edward Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who blew the lid on vast US phone and internet surveillance programs.