Julian Assange wants Australian Senate seat
Calls grow for the Australian government to intervene in the Julian Assange ‘extradition saga’ after the WikiLeaks founder announced plans to run for the Australian Senate from the UK.
By Tim Martin
WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange plans to run for a seat in the Australian Senate, despite being under house arrest in the United Kingdom.
WikiLeaks announced its intentions via Twitter on Saturday, saying the organisation also planned to field a candidate to run against Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her seat of Lalor (Victoria) at the next election.
“We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian Senate while detained [in the UK]. Julian has decided to run,” the WikiLeaks website tweeted.
”The name of the Laylor [sic] candidate and the state Julian will run for will be announced at the appropriate time.”
WikiLeaks is also considering the notion of establishing its own political party, declaring it ”not only feasible but likely given the support levels in Australia”.
Queensland born Assange has lived overseas for a substantial part of the last decade but remains an Australian citizen. He is currently being detained in England, facing possible extradition to Sweden where police want to question him over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in 2010.
West Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam said on Sunday that he wants the Australian government to intervene on a diplomatic level in the extradition matter and finally “stand up” for Assange.
“It is not acceptable that the Australian government has stayed silent, so we are calling on the Prime Minister to make her position very clear and for the new Foreign Minister Bob Carr to stick up for an Australian citizen in trouble,” Senator Ludlam told reporters in Brisbane.
“We saw when a kid was busted in Bali for possession of quantities of marijuana, people were put on planes, phones rang.
“The Australian government appropriately did everything that it could to make sure his legal and consular rights were upheld.
“Now in the case of an Australian journalist [Julian Assange] who has got on the wrong side of the US government …nothing, not a word. And that has to stop.
“The Australian government has to stand up for him and that means legal, diplomatic and political pressure, now.
“I think if the Prime Minister can keep her head down and stay silent, she is really badly mistaken. “There’s a huge amount of support in Australia for him.”
However the Australian government has previously blasted WikiLeaks and Julia Gillard described its release of US diplomatic cables in 2010 as “grossly irresponsible”.
The PM even ordered the Australian Federal Police to determine if WikiLeaks and Assange could be held liable for publishing the leaked documents but the AFP concluded that Assange and his organisation hadn’t violated any Australian laws.
Meanwhile, Senator Ludlam confirmed that Assange could campaign for the Senate position from the UK but should he be successful, the WikiLeaks founder would have to return to Australia to sit in the chamber if he won his seat.
“I think it would be possible for Julian to campaign in absentia but that would presume he is under house arrest somewhere or in detention and I think that would be really alarming if by this time next year that’s the case,” Senator Ludlam said.
Assange’s mother, Christine, supported her son’s Senate push and said Australia “needed” more people like him in the government.
“The more people we have in there that are interested in transparency and operating this government as a democracy, the better,” Ms Assange told reporters.
However, she said that the Senate bid wasn’t the most important issue at the moment and called for Australia to “stand up now” for her son.
“The more important issue is the cross-border collusion between America, Sweden, (the) UK and Australia to silence a journalist [Assange] and a media organisation [WikiLeaks] which is merely doing their job by telling the people what is going on in the corridors of power,” she said. - With AAP and sources
Would you vote for Julian Assange? Should the Australian government intervene and help the WikiLeaks founder return to Australia? Have your say below: