Julian Assange: Senate my ticket to freedom
Monday, 18 February 2013
Julian Assange, shown at the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he received asylum, has said winning a Senate seat in Australia would stop the US and Britain pursuing him. Photograph: Sang Tan/AP
CANBERRA (AP) - The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has told an Australian news website that his bid to become an Australian senator will serve as a defence against potential criminal prosecution in the United States and Britain.
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 were to win a Senate seat at elections on 24 September, Assange told the website, the US department of justice would drop its espionage investigation rather than risk a diplomatic row. The British government would follow suit otherwise "the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still", Assange said.
Assange supporters have enrolled him to vote in the state of Victoria. Electoral enrolment is necessary to be nominated as a candidate. Nominations for the Senate are likely to close on 22 August and if Assange were elected his six-year term of office would begin on 1 July 2014. Australians living overseas can enrol to vote and 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 said he would 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 has said that if Assange is elected and unable to take his Senate seat another WikiLeaks party member will be chosen to fill the vacancy. The party would run on a platform of transparency in government, Castro said.
Assange told the Conversation that the Swedish allegations against him were "falling apart" and police should drop the case. The US department of justice has been investigating WikiLeaks since it began distributing hundreds of thousands of classified US documents. Assange's supporters suggest the Swedish case is being pursued as an avenue to extradite him to the US, though the Swedish government denies it.
Source: AP via Guardian UK.
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