Whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks has said it will put forth Julian Assange and other candidates in Australia’s upcoming elections, adding that it would be “embarrassing” if its founder won but could not take his seat.
Greg Barns, a lawyer who is Assange’s newly-appointed campaign director, said on Saturday that the WikiLeaks Party had secured candidates to run in at least three states when Australians go to the polls on September 14.
Australian-born Assange said last year that he would run for the Senate despite him being holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June.
Aside from Assange, who is expected to be on the upper house ticket for the state of Victoria, Barns said WikiLeaks would present several other “high quality candidates” including a state running mate for the WikiLeaks chief.
That would allow the party to take the Victoria seat even if Assange, who sought Ecuadorian asylum in a bid to dodge extradition to Sweden where he is wanted over sex crime allegations, is unable to return to Australia.
The UK refused to grant Assange safe passage out of the country, leaving him stranded in Ecuador’s London embassy, and Australia has been outspoken about his whistle-blowing activities.
Barns told reporters that after a win “it would be up to the government to secure the opportunity for Assange to come back to Australia.”
But he added: “It would be internationally embarrassing for the voters of Victoria not to be able to have in the senate the person for whom they voted on September 14.”
The WikiLeaks founder is a popular figure in Australia.
Assange said last month that he believed the US would drop its grand jury investigation of his diplomatic memo leaks and Britain would follow suit were he to win a seat in the Australian election.
To persist would risk an “international diplomatic row” Assange told the Australian news website The Conversation.