Wikileaks has been missing from the news in recent months after an excessive run of headlines in the first half of 2011. The organisation’s most prominent figure Julian Assange, currently under house arrest in Britain, has announced plans to run for a place in Australia’s Senate. The freedom of information activist is currently awaiting a ruling on his impending extradition to Sweden after he was accused of sexual assault and rape last year. The forty year old is a native of Australia and the Wikileaks organisation is planning on fielding multiple candidates in the country come the elections in December.
We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian Senate while detained. Julian has decided to run.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 17, 2012
Legal questions were asked this morning by the Wikileaks Twitter account about the legitimacy of such a run, considering the potential candidates current troubles with the law. Human Rights Lawyer Peter Kemp made the argument today that Assange could run as per the regulations around candidacy in Australia. The law there states that a person can be prevented from running if they have been convicted and are under sentence or to be sentenced for a legal infraction. Kemp says that Assange is well within the limits of these rules and should have no problem obtaining a place on the ballot. Kemp is a long standing supporter of Wikileak’s actions and organisation. He is currently a solicitor at the Supreme Court in New South Wales.
If the Wikileaks party takes off in Australia, where it has a reasonable sized following, it could result in greater legitimacy being given to Assange’s releases of information. In a much more practical sense the election of Julian Assange to Australia’s Senate could create unforseen difficulties in Swedish attempts to extradite him and try him. Wikileaks spokespeople have in the past claimed Assanges resistance to extradition was not based on the prosecution in Sweden but instead out of fear that the Swedish government might cooperate with the United States in having him tried for the release of information last year, particularly US diplomatic cables.
Whatever the outcome of the process to get on the ballot, or the election itself, Wikileaks will be glad to have its name in the news again after recent relative obscurity. The company is currently releasing 5 million of what it claims are Stratfor’s emails. The Texan intelligence company was hacked by an Anonymous related group in the latter part of 2011. The freedom of information lobby group will certainly be happy to be noticed once again.