SYDNEY, Feb 18 – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange believes winning a seat in Australia’s upper house would extricate him from his prolonged asylum inside Ecuador’s London embassy, a report said Monday.
In an interview published on Australian website The Conversation, Assange outlined a scenario that would set him free to return to home.
If he takes a senate seat in the September 14 elections, “the US Department of Justice won’t want to spark an international diplomatic row,” The Conversation paraphrased Assange as saying.
“It will drop its grand jury espionage investigation. The Cameron government will follow suit,” it added.
If Britain failed to back off “the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still,” Assange said.
He added that sex crime allegations against him in Sweden were “falling apart”.
A new WikiLeaks Party is to be launched soon with a 10-member national council and field candidates for the senate. Queensland-born Assange is expected to stand in Victoria state.
He has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June, after claiming asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden. Britain has refused to grant him safe passage out of the country.
The former computer hacker fears Sweden will allow him to be extradited to the United States to be questioned over the WikiLeaks release of thousands of US diplomatic cables.
Despite the swirl of allegations against him, Assange is a popular figure in Australia.
WikiLeaks angered the United States in 2010 by publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a huge cache of US diplomatic cables that embarrassed governments worldwide.
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa called on Europe on Sunday to find a snap diplomatic solution for Assange.
“It’s a diplomatic situation for which a solution must be found… as quickly as possible,” Correa said shortly after declaring victory in presidential elections.
“There can’t be a problem due to asylum, it’s neocolonialism,” he said, reiterating Quito’s demands — safe passage or questioning of Assange by a Swedish judicial official in London.