Julian Assange: disarray in WikiLeaks Party is my fault
WikiLeaks founder says Australian party fell apart as he tried to arrange asylum for Edward Snowden
JULIAN ASSANGE has taken full responsibility for the disarray of his fledgling political party in Australia, saying he was distracted by the plight of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Just days before the 7 September general election, the WikiLeaks Party is in chaos following the abrupt resignation of one of its highest-profile candidates, Leslie Cannold. The author and ethicist was Assange's running mate in the state of Victoria and would have taken his seat in the Australian Senate if he had been unable to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Cannold quit after the party gave its voting preferences (under the Australian electoral system voters rank candidates in order of preference) to several right-wing organisations in New South Wales and Western Australia. Cannold said she would be "breaking faith with the Australian people" if she remained a candidate.
Her abrupt departure was followed by the resignation of Daniel Mathews, who helped found the WikiLeaks website with Assange. In a lengthy statement posted on his blog, Dr Mathews cited the preferences fiasco as the immediate reason for his resignation, but added there were several issues that have been "simmering for some time".
"I know that dozens have put their heart and soul into this party because they believed it to be a party of principle, a party of integrity," he wrote.
Four members of the WikiLeaks Party's governing body have also resigned as well as several members and volunteers.
The beleaguered party has blamed its decision to give preferences in NSW to the Shooters and Fishers Party and Australia First (and The National Party in WA) on an "administrative error". Cannold disputes that explanation and believes more of the party's candidates may stand down over the issue prior to the election.
Assange said his efforts to arrange asylum for Snowden had distracted him from the day-to-day operations of the party.
"I [have been] trying to save the life of a young man," the WikiLeaks founder told Australia's ABC Television. "So, I admit and accept full responsibility for overdelegating to the Australian party while I tried to take care of those situations."
Assange said Cannold did not discuss her concerns with him prior to resigning. He said the party had already found a replacement candidate to stand in the election. ·