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WikiLeaks Party candidate drops out, cites lack of transparancy

Aug. 21, 2013 at 9:06 AM

CANBERRA, Australia, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- A WikiLeaks Party candidate for the Australian Senate has quit, citing a lack of transparency and accountability in the party founded by Julian Assange.

Author and ethicist Leslie Cannold was the second WikiLeaks Party candidate on the Senate ticket in Victoria to leave the race the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

Assange, who heads the ticket, is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as he fights extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning in a sexual assault investigation.

Cannold would have been installed if Assange won but could not take the Senate seat.

In announcing her decision Wednesday, Cannold said she would be doing the Australian people a disservice if she remained a candidate.

In a letter released to the media, she cited "vigorous debates" over Senate preference deals and said decisions made by WikiLeaks Party leaders were "white-anted and resisted." (White-anting is an Australian term for internal erosion of a foundation, typically referring to a political party.)

She said internal squabbling over preference decisions "exposed problems with the capacity of the party to sustain its democratic processes."

"By staying in this role, I am implicitly vouching for the worthiness of this party to receive the votes of the Australian people," she said in the statement.

Assange unveiled the WikiLeaks Party's seven Senate candidates in late July. Academics, journalists and human rights activists were to vie for Senate seats in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales.

WikiLeaks triggered a firestorm of criticism during the weekend when it opted to give first preferences to extreme right-wing candidates and parties in New South Wales, including the Australia First Party, which is led by a convicted criminal and former neo-Nazi, ABC said. In Western Australia, WikiLeaks gave its preferences to the National Party ahead of one of WikiLeaks' biggest supporters, Greens Sen. Scott Ludlum.

Elections are scheduled for Sept. 14.

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