Long-Distance Run: Assange Prepares Australian Senate Campaign From Hiding In London

As Australian Senate campaigns begin, the WikiLeaks Party has stepped up its campaign to elect exiled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
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    Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, gestures as he speaks to the media and members of the public from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been taking refuge to avoid extradiction to Sweden. His WikiLeaks Party is in the running to win Senate seats in Australia, according to polls. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, gestures as he speaks to the media and members of the public from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been taking refuge to avoid extradiction to Sweden. His WikiLeaks Party is in the running to win Senate seats in Australia, according to polls. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    As Australian Senate campaigns begin, the WikiLeaks Party has stepped up its campaign to elect exiled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, announcing an ambitious fundraising goal of $700,000. The political party’s 1,500 official members will have their work cut out for them as Assange continues to evade extradition to Sweden and the U.S. by hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He has been there for more than a year, continuing to publish leaked documents that expose corruption and possible war crimes committed by the United States and other governments around the world.

    Assange announced his bid for the Australian Senate in late 2012. The Age National Times reports that “a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public have indicated their availability to stand for election on a party ticket.” The 42-year-old WikiLeaks founder will run either in New South Wales or Victoria, two areas where he is believed to have some public support.

    Like any political campaign, the question remains: Does Assange stand a chance at winning?

    The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that a recent poll shows 21 percent of Australians would consider voting for the WikiLeaks Party. In the country’s parliamentary electoral system, this could be enough to secure representation in the Australian Senate.

    What the WikiLeaks Party lacks in formal ground support, it may be able to make up for with a strong online campaign. WikiLeaks enjoys roughly 1.9 million followers on Twitter and 2.2 million “likes” on its Facebook page. Most supporters of the ongoing government transparency project live outside of Australia.

    Russia Today reports that Assange can run and has a shot at winning even though he is on the opposite side of the world. Assange simply has to prove that he is still a resident of Australia, and he will have to return to the country within two months should he win office.

    Assange’s bid for the Senate remains complicated due to the fact that he is still wanted for questioning in Sweden for alleged sex crimes. The U.S. is seeking to try him for a much more serious set of crimes — including violations of the Espionage Act.

    What can Assange bring to the table if elected? His party promises to transform politics using the principles of transparency and accountability. It’s in keeping with the work of WikiLeaks, an organization that, since its founding in 2006, has exposed government corruption and evidence of war crimes committed during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

    “I think that that’s appropriate at this time, particularly as you see the NSA and Snowden revelations of spying on private emails and private phone conversations all over the world,” said John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father. “Some of them come from the activist community and then there are people that have come from the Liberal and the Labor side of politics that are just really feeling that both sides of politics are not focusing on the severe stripping of civil liberties and democracy within Australian society.”

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