18 Mar 2012

Assange to run for seat in Australian senate

4:00 pm on 18 March 2012

WikiLeaks has announced that its founder and leader, Julian Assange, is planning to run for a seat in the Australian senate.

Mr Assange is in England facing possible extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in 2010.

He is currently on bail awaiting a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against the extradition.

But WikiLeaks says despite his legal predicament, he is eligible to run for the upper house.

"We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian senate while detained," WikiLeaks says on Twitter, "Julian has decided to run."

WikiLeaks says it will also be running a candidate against Prime Minister Julia Gillard in her seat of Lalor.

The Australian government has previously blasted WikiLeaks, with Ms Gillard describing its release of US diplomatic cables as "grossly irresponsible".

It ordered federal police to investigate whether WikiLeaks had broken Australian law, but they reported back in 2010 that it had not broken any under their jurisdiction in releasing the cables.

Mr Assange has strongly denied the claims of sexual assault against him, saying they are politically motivated.

He says he fears being sent to Stockholm would open the way for his extradition to the United States to face charges of spying linked to the leaking of classified military documents.