SYDNEY — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, formally inaugurated a political party bearing the name of his antisecrecy organization Thursday and declared his own unorthodox candidacy for a seat in the Australian Senate in national elections later this year.
In a phone interview, Assange said he had every confidence in his ability to run a campaign from the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he has been living for more than a year after being given asylum so he would not have to face extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for sexual assault accusations.
“It’s not unlike running the WikiLeaks organization,” he said. “However, it’s nice to be politically engaged in my home country,” he added.
Assange, an Australian computer hacker who rose to prominence as a proponent of radical government transparency and a critic of US foreign policy, is a polarizing figure. Many think the WikiLeaks Party is a vanity project for Assange, although several polls conducted since plans to set up the party emerged this year suggest it could fare better than some initially suspected.
The Australian Senate has a history of successful protest candidates, said John Wanna, a political science professor at Australian National University. Assange probably hopes to trade on name recognition and follow in the footsteps of other rabble-rousing, single-issue senators, Wanna said.
If elected, Assange said, his party would work to advance a platform of “transparency, justice, and accountability.”
In addition to Assange, the party announced Thursday the names of six other candidates it will run in the election, which is scheduled to be held on Sept. 14.