WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to run for Australian senate seat
Assange still holed up inside Ecuador's U.K. embassy
WikiLeaks has announced that it will be a registered political party in Australia and founder, Julian Assange, will be a Victoria state senate candidate in the country's federal elections in September.
It will also field senate candidates in the New South Wales and Western Australia state senate races, local media reported.
Officials also said they won't rule out fielding candidates in other states or even the lower house of parliament if they find the right people to run, according to local media.
Assange himself remains under investigation by the U.S. and has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the better part of a year to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.
"It would be up to the government to secure the opportunity for Mr. Assange to come back to Australia," WikiLeaks campaign director Greg Barns told a news conference in Melbourne on Saturday.
He dismissed questions about whether registering WikiLeaks as a political party was part of "a legal strategy or diplomatic strategy on Julian's part to get back to Australia."
"If that were the case, he would simply put his name down for the senate, run in the ungrouped category and hope to get elected. This is actually a much broader movement," Barns said. "It is a party which will run other candidates and it's about those other candidates as well as being about Julian."
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, party officials said.
Assange's election campaign already has the endorsement of his parents.
His father, Sydney architect John Shipton, said he will be the chief executive of the newly formed party.
Shipton said his son is doing well although in physically harsh conditions.
"WikiLeaks will release a million pages of documents this year. There's this party to run here and contribute to, so Julian and staff are very, very busy," he added.
Party officials said they are drawing members from both of the major sides of politics as well as people who had not previously been politically active, according to local media.
Assange is wanted in Sweden for questioning over criminal allegations made by two women.
But Assange says the Swedish allegations are a ploy to get him to Sweden from where he would be extradited to the United States.
The U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating WikiLeaks since the secret-busting website began distributing hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents.
But few details of that investigation have been made public.