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Assange upbeat on chances in Australia poll

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday he had a good chance of winning election to Australia's upper house next month and pledged to give lawmakers a whistleblowing tool to report corruption.

Assange, who is standing along with six other WikiLeaks Party candidates in the September 7 national poll, said his numbers were strong.

"We have polling over many polls now including the (ruling) ALP's own polling company UMR showing that I have 25 to 28 percent of the voting intention -- 40 percent of the voting intention for people under the age of 30," Assange told Australia's SBS television.

"That's a really very significant result," he added in an interview at the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he has been holed up for more than a year.

Assange's WikiLeaks Party has vowed to be an "independent scrutineer of government activity" on a range of issues including tax reform, asylum-seekers and climate change policy.

Assange said one of the party's early priorities would be distributing secure WikiLeaks drives to fellow lawmakers to leak information about corruption.

"One of the first things that we will do when we have someone in the Senate is go and give every senator a secure USB communications system where they can convey to WikiLeaks information about corruption within Australian political parties and so on that they've observed but can't reveal," he said.

"You start going for the things that are the most hidden -- it doesn't mean they're the most important to publish but it's often a very very good signal that if they're hidden and hard to get it's because people are concerned that if they're published something might happen."

Were his Australian political experiment to work Assange said he planned to export the WikiLeaks Party model to the United States, Ireland and elsewhere.

Assange has been living inside Ecuador's embassy since June 2012 as he fights extradition from Britain to Sweden, where authorities want to question him over alleged sex crimes.

He revealed that WikiLeaks was campaigning within Australia's 300,000-strong expatriate community in London, about 10 percent of whom he said voted in the last national elections in their home country.

"So it's actually quite interesting, it's much more like US politics here in that the real goal is to get people to vote. You don't need to convert their vote, you need to get them to vote at all," he said.

Voting is compulsory in Australia and failure to do so is punishable by a Aus$20 fine.

The activist has voiced fears that the United States wants to put him on trial after WikiLeaks angered US officials through huge leaks of sensitive diplomatic correspondence and material on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Assange told SBS he had feared that his whistleblowing website "very likely might not survive" the leaking of the diplomatic cables and so-called war logs.

It is uncertain whether or how, if the Australian former computer hacker does win his Senate race, he will able to assume the seat given his status in the Ecuador embassy.

ajc/jah

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130806/assange-upbeat-chances-australia-poll