WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Tuesday vowed to be a "libertarian" and campaign for more openness in government if he is successful in gaining a seat in the Australian Senate.
Assange, who is on bail awaiting a British court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations, announced his plan to run for the upper house of Parliament earlier this month.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian citizen said he would be a "fierce defender of free media."
Assange, who set up the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, also vowed to use parliamentary privilege to break court suppression orders and other "excessive constraints" on free access to information.
He said there were "many things wrong" with Australian politics, especially "increasing levels of cronyism" and "the betrayal of the rights and interests of people - by political insiders, operating in their own interests."
The "state Julian will run for will be announced at the appropriate time," WikiLeaks said this month. He has several options, having lived in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The Herald said he was considering "all possibilities," including standing as an independent, seeking an alliance with a party, or establishing his own party devoted to advancing open government.
If he wins a Senate seat, he would be covered by Australia's parliamentary privilege rules, which protect politicians against legal action over comments made in Parliament.
However, "it is not as simple as he thinks," former clerk of the Senate Harry Evans, who is regarded as the leading expert on the privileges and protection of parliament, told Reuters. "He's only covered for what he says inside of Parliament," Evans said. "In a normal criminal case, there is no immunity."
AFP - Reuters