- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2017

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange on Wednesday said he’s “seriously considering” running for U.K. Parliament when British voters cast ballots this spring in a recently announced snap election.

The Australian-born transparency advocate teased his potential political bid from his Twitter account Wednesday, writing: “Should I run in the U.K. general election?”

Nearly 19,000 Twitter users ultimately voted in an informal poll shared by Mr. Assange, including 79 percent who said he should run for parliament.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald afterward, Mr. Assange suggested he wasn’t joking when he floated the idea from his Twitter account.

“(I’m) seriously considering how much fun it might be to slap the powder off their stuck-up, class-bound noses,” Mr. Assangetold the newspaper.

If the WikiLeaks chief ultimately chose to run for office, then British voters may expect to see a campaign unlike any witnessed in recent memory: Mr. Assange has resided within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for nearly seven years under self-imposed exile, and would likely campaign exclusively from within its walls since British authorities have been reportedly instructed to arrest him on sight.

While not formally charged with any crime, Mr. Assange is sought for questioning Swedish prosecutors with respect to sex crime allegations dating back to 2010. He’s refused to travel to Stockholm, however, over fears he’ll be extradited abroad and prosecuted for publishing U.S. government secrets through his website WikiLeaks

Despite being granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012, Mr. Assange has been unable to leave its London Embassy without risking arrest at the hand of British authorities. Nonetheless, the WikiLeaks chief said nothing in British law precludes him from running for Parliament.

“Since I am not sentenced (or even charged) with a crime and am an Australian I can run for UK parliament. Haha,” he tweeted Wednesday.

As a citizen of a British commonwealth, Mr. Assange would only need to pay a refundable deposit and secure the signatures of 10 people in his electorate if he chooses to run, Australia’s Fairfax media reported. British MPs aren’t required to attend Parliament in person, but do need to be physically present inside Westminster to vote on matters, Fairfax added.

Mr. Assange unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Australian Senate in 2013, garnering about 1.24 percent of total votes cast.

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