Assange's running for office may affect his asylum claims
Julian Assange has decided to run for public office in his native Australia. This information came out in a Tweet by WikiLeaks and has been confirmed in statements to the press by Kristinn Hrafnsson, the official spokesperson for WikiLeaks, and Christine Assange, mother of Julian Assange.
According to the WikiLeaks Twitter page and media reports Mr. Assange will be running for Senate on a WikiLeaks Party ticket. According to Australian media Assange stated that plans to register a WikiLeaks Party are ''significantly advanced,'' and that "… a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public have indicated their availability to stand for election on a party ticket.”
In an interview with Australia’s Fairfax Media Assange said he meets the Australian requirements to “register as an overseas elector in either New South Wales or Victoria and will soon be making a strategic decision about which state he would be a senate candidate for.” Whether the public will support his candidacy is another question altogether but according to Assange he is encouraged by a number of Australian polls, which had been conducted over the previous years and which he says show a high-level of unwavering support for himself and WikiLeaks. The key question will be if that support can be translated into actual votes in the polling booth from an Australian Electorate that has been fed a steady stream of anti-Assange propaganda for years.
Some might argue that this is just another media stunt by Assange to cause another media frenzy, with the very important question be raised as to how he will be able to serve the Australian people, if elected, and he is unable to return to Australia. According to Fairfax Media Assange said if that is the case a nominee would occupy his Senate seat.
Other questions arise as to how running for political office in Australia might affect his political asylum claims under international treaties and how Ecuador will react to the fact that someone who they are protecting wishes to run for public office in a country where he is supposedly unwelcome and would be in danger.
The level of danger to Ecuador and to the Ecuadorian President, caused by their sheltering Assange, was once again underlined by Mr. William Blum, a famous American writer and academic, in an interview I conducted with him for the Voice of Russia. Mr. Blum said he was not surprised by President Correa’s claims that the CIA was planning to assassinate him before the presidential elections next month and that sheltering Assange was by itself enough reason for the CIA to assassinate him.
Mr. Blum said: “The CIA attempts to assassinate people for much less reasons than that. Assange is the public enemy No. 1 in America. The U.S. is obsessed with him and they are afraid that he will be issuing the release of more classified documents so they’d really like to put him out of the way, if they can.”
There are further questions that arise with the fact that Assange and WikiLeaks associates have stated in the past that; Australia has done nothing to protect Assange and that he would be handed over to the Americans for prosecution if he set foot on Australian soil.
Whether him winning a seat to public office will provide him with immunity from persecution and prosecution is also questionable and one might contend that Assange would be better of concentrating his efforts on perhaps running for office in the country that has granted him asylum and has been protecting him even though it has put that country’s president in the proverbial “cross-hairs of a CIA drone”.
According to Fairfax Media, Assange's biological father, John Shipton, is the person on the ground organizing the formation of the Australian WikiLeaks Party, and has already drafted the party's constitution which is now under legal review.
For the party to be registered with the Australian Electoral Commission they would need "... the confirmation of 500 members who are listed on the electoral roll", says Fairfax Media.
As Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London it is not clear how he would be able to carry out his plans but perhaps he has several cards up his sleeve.
According to Mr. Blum Mr. Assange might prefer to be cautious and avoid open spaces as: “There is a drone somewhere with his name on it, and if he walks around in the world and he is not in the midst of a big city, he’s a marked man. There’s a rocket with his name on it inside of a drone with his name on it.”
Whether refugee Assange becomes Senator Assange, only time will tell.