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‘WikiLeaks Party will attract the support of many women’: Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces extradition to Sweden over sexual assault charges and is residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. EPA/ANDY RAIN

The nascent WikiLeaks Party will combine a small, centralised leadership with grass roots involvement and will attract many female voters, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said.

Assange, who is living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, made the comments in an exclusive interview conducted by John Keane, professor of politics at the University of Sydney for The Conversation.

The wide-ranging interview covered the techniques Assange uses to cope with his extended confinement, the FBI investigation of other WikiLeaks members, the Swedish case against him and how Assange will run in the election despite not being on the electoral roll.

In the interview, published today on The Conversation, Assange reiterated his intention to run for a Senate seat in the upcoming election and said the WikiLeaks Party structure would “combine a small, centralised leadership with maximum grass roots involvement and support.”

“By relying on decentralised Wikipedia-style, user-generated structures, it will do without apparatchiks. The party will be incorruptible and ideologically united,” he said.

The party already has a draft election manifesto and will probably field Senate candidates in several states, with Assange most likely to run in Victoria.

“Parties should be fun. They should put the word party back into politics,” Assange said.

One-time Assange supporter, Jemima Khan, recently wrote that Assange undermined his own agenda by refusing to answer questions in Sweden.

“It may well be that the serious allegations of sexual assault and rape are not substantiated in court, but I have come to the conclusion that these are all matters for Swedish due process and that Assange is undermining both himself and his own transparency agenda – as well as doing the US department of justice a favour – by making his refusal to answer questions in Sweden into a human rights issue,” she wrote in the New Statesman earlier this month.

“The women in question have human rights, too, and need resolution. Assange’s noble cause and his wish to avoid a US court does not trump their right to be heard in a Swedish court.”

In his interview with Professor Keane, Assange said he expected the party to attract the support of female voters.

“I’m not interested in softening my image by planting attractive women around me, as for instance George W. Bush did,” he said.

“I like women. They’re on balance braver than men, and I’ve worked with many in exposing projects that damage women’s lives. An example is the scandalous practice of UN peacekeepers trading food for sex that we exposed. Our WikiLeaks Party will attract the support of many women.”

Should his present confinement prevent him from taking up a Senate seat, the Senate may vote to evict him, Assange said.

“But that would trigger a big political row. Australians probably wouldn’t swallow it. They’ve learned a lesson from the controversial dismissal of Gough Whitlam,” he said.

Winning a Senate seat may also affect the case against him being pursued by the US and UK, he said, saying that “the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still”.

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