Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s plans to capture a seat at Australia’s September 7 elections were in disarray on Thursday after his top local candidate quit due to an internal fight over party organization. Assange, who remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, accepted responsibility for the divisions, saying he had been too busy helping fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia. “I made a decision two months ago to spend a lot of my time on dealing with the Edward Snowden asylum situation, and trying to save the life of a young man. The result is over delegation,” Assange told Australian television on Thursday. “I admit and I accept full responsibility for over delegating functions to the Australian party while I try to take care of that situation.” Assange has been given political asylum by Ecuador, but faces immediate arrest and extradition to Sweden to face accusations of rape and sexual assault if he leaves Ecuador’s London embassy.
Assange has set up the Wikileaks Party in Australia and is running for a seat in the Senate upper house on a platform of transparency of information and protection of human rights.
Polls show his party is unlikely to attract the 17 percent of the vote needed to win a Senate seat — including “preference” ballots from other parties under Australia’s complex proportional voting system.
If he did win, he would need to return to Australia or his party would hand the seat to the second candidate on its list, Leslie Cannold.
But Cannold has now quit the Wikileaks Party, saying it was undemocratic and suggesting other candidates might also resign.