Julian Assange to stand for Australian Senate

WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange plans to run for a seat in the Australian Senate in elections due next year despite being under virtual house arrest in the UK and facing sex crime allegations in Sweden.

The 40-year-old Australian citizen is fighting extradition to Sweden. He has taken his legal battle all the way to Britain’s Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on his case soon.

“We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian Senate while detained. Julian has decided to run,” WikiLeaks announced on Twitter.

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Assange has criticised Australian prime minister Julia Gillard’s centre-left government for not backing him against the potential threat of his extradition to the United States for prosecution over WikiLeaks’ release of hundreds of thousands of classified US documents.

Australian police have concluded that WikiLeaks and Assange have not broken any Australian laws by publishing the US cables, although Gillard has condemned the action as “grossly irresponsible”.

Being convicted of a crime punishable under Australian law by 12 months or more in prison can disqualify a person from running for the Australian parliament for the duration of the sentence.

Every Australian election attracts candidates who have little hope of winning and use their campaigns to seek publicity for various political or commercial causes.

The next Senate election is due around August 2013.