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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has appointed Greg Barns, formerly the head of the Australian Republican Movement, to run his campaign for a seat in Australia’s senate.

Assange, who is holed up in London’s Ecuadorean embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden for charges of sexual assault, is hoping to use a seat in Australia’s upper house of parliament to further the cause for free speech.

Assange’s absentee bid for a Senate seat would not guarantee him legal protection, even if he were to win. Though it’s difficult to imagine how Assange would hold the post from the Ecuadorian embassy, Barns insists it is a genuine bid.

“It’s most definitely a serious campaign,” he told Australian radio. “He does attract support from across the political spectrum. The party will offer a refreshing change from the Australian government culture of secrecy.”

Assange, an Australian citizen, announced he would run for the 76-seat senate last year. He would need to garner 15 percent of the votes in Victoria to win, and is generally considered a long shot. Still, Barns noted that Assange’s party had already secured backing from a prominent Melbourne philanthropist, former Citibank executive Philip Wollen.

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Julian Assange finds anti-Monarchist campaign director for Australian Senate race
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