Julian Assange: Women Are 'Braver Than Men'
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has acknowledged that his decision to run for an Australian Senate seat could allow him to strengthen his position as he looks to avoid possible criminal prosecution in the U.S. And he said he expects his new WikiLeaks Party in Australia to attract female voters despite his facing sex crime allegations in Sweden, arguing that they are braver than men.
Assange recently announced his candidacy in his native Australia in elections in September, promising to fight for more government transparency. Now, he has signaled that the U.S. Department of Justice may have to drop an espionage investigation into him if he was elected in Australia - to avoid a diplomatic conflict between two old allies. Assange made the comments in an interview with Australian site The Conversation from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he was granted asylum in June.
For the British government, which has said Assange would be arrested if he leaves the embassy, "the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still" if he was in a political office, he also argued. Asked how voters would react if British policy didn't allow him to leave the embassy to go to Australia, he said: "Australians probably wouldn’t swallow it."
Sweden has been trying to get Assange extradited on sex crime allegations. The Ecuadorian asylum offer has allowed him to avoid extradition to the Scandinavian country, from where his supporters have argued he could be sent to the U.S. to be prosecuted for publishing confidential diplomatic documents.
"Our WikiLeaks Party will attract the support of many women," Assange also predicted. "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."
The WikiLeaks founder emphasized though: "I’m not interested in softening my image by planting attractive women around me as for instance George W. Bush did."
Assange supporters have enrolled Assange to vote in the Australian state of Victoria, which allows him to be nominated as a candidate, according to reports. Nominations are expected to close in late August. If elected, his six-year term would start in July 2014.
Assange has vowed to field several Senate candidates from a new political party called the WikiLeaks Party. He told The Conversation that he was confident the party would attract the minimum 500 fee-paying members needed to be registered, according to The Associated Press.
“By relying on decentralized Wikipedia-style, user-generated structures, it will do without apparatchiks," Assange told The Conversation about the party. "The party will be incorruptible and ideologically united."
Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com Twitter: @georgszalai