- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Though still confined to the Ecuadorean embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is evidently taking a page from Eugene V. Debs‘ book and planning a run for senate in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:
Mr Assange said plans to register an Australian WikiLeaks party were ”significantly advanced”. He indicated he would be a Senate candidate, and added that "a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public" have indicated their availability to stand for election on a party ticket.
Mr Assange said he is able to fulfil the requirements to register as an overseas elector in either New South Wales or Victoria and that he will shortly take a "strategic decision" about which state he would be a Senate candidate for.[…]
If Mr Assange were elected but he was unable to return to Australia to take up his position, a nominee would occupy a Senate seat.
Mr Assange said he had been "quite encouraged" by series of published polls through the past two years that showed support for WikiLeaks had remained "consistently high".
Opinion polls this year by UMR Research, the company the Labor Party uses for its internal polling, have suggested that Mr Assange could be a competitive Senate candidate in either NSW or Victoria, most likely fighting it out with the Australian Greens for the last of six seats up for grabs in each state in a half-Senate election.
In case you’re wondering, election to the Senate wouldn’t confer diplomatic or sovereign immunity from prosecution on Assange, and Australian parliamentarians are not protected from criminal prosecution for activities unrelated to their position.
But even if election wouldn’t have any bearing on Assange’s current legal predicament, it could have other advantages. Australian parliamentarians "cannot be sued or prosecuted for anything they say or do in the course of parliamentary proceedings."
At times, politicians have taken advantage of this privilege. Last year, Senator Nick Xenophon used it to publicly name a catholic priest accused of rape. It certainly seems like the sort of advantage someone in the secret-telling business could find a way to take advantage of.