WikiLeaks has taken the natural next step in its evolution as a force of continuous disclosure by announcing it wants to challenge for a seat in the Australian Senate.
The organisation announced on Saturday that founder and chief Leaker Julian Assange will run for a seat in the Australian Senate, although the details of which state that will be in have yet to be revealed. Wikileaks also announced that it is looking for a candidate to take on Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her Victorian seat.
“WikiLeaks @wikileaksWe will also be fielding a candidate to run against Julia Gillard in her home seat of Lalor (Vic)…….The name of the Laylor candidate and the state Julian will run for will be announced at the appropriate time.”
Assange currently remains in the UK on bail awaiting news of the British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against possible extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sexual assaults in 2010.
Incarceration concerns aside, Wikileaks claim that he can still run for the Australian senate while detained. But WikiLeaks says despite his legal predicament, Assange is eligible to run for the Upper House.
In every way the move into the political arena was an inevitable one for Assange,the only surprise picking such a small stage, as he describes his organisation in his unauthorised biography; “we are a people’s bureau of checks and balances, working internationally and knowing that the things that governments and diplomats do behind closed doors is entirely our business.”
Meanwhile Assange’s mother Christine has called for Australia's new Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr to “stand up now” for his plight. Assange told a forum in Brisbane on Friday that “any day now, the [British] Supreme Court will announce its decision. If the answer is his appeal is upheld, Julian can, in theory, come home or stay in the UK. If it is not, he will be taken to Sweden within 10 days."
She urged Australians to "stand up now and tell the politicians how you feel," and called for the day after Supreme Court decision to be "a day for Julian" replete with protests outside government offices, to raise awareness of case.
Following the news announcement, a Wikileaks support and discussion site WLCentral, which is not affiliated with the Wikileaks organisation, has accused mainstream media for “gross misrepresentations” over coverage of Assange’s candidacy. The site draws attention to a number of News Ltd reports which quote WLCentral and independent legal opinion which was posted in the site on January 2nd and draw the conclusion that the site is a mouth piece for Wikileaks.
“The writer and WLC simply request that the main stream media cease and desist from those gross misrepresentations," the WLCentral site said.
Crikey blogger William Bowe - The Poll Bludger - believes any Senate success for Assange would be a big ask, pointing out that a Wikileaks party would "face a formidable challenge in assembling the requisite 14.3 per cent quota for election in any given state". There's also the small matter of a federal election not being due for around eighteen months.
However, it has at least demonstrated Assange's ability to generate a media buzz. ®