Assange upbeat on chances in Australia poll

SYDNEY (AFP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Tuesday he has a good chance of winning election to Australia's upper house and pledged to give lawmakers a whistleblowing tool to report corruption.

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

"... Many polls now including the (ruling) ALP's own polling company UMR showing that I have 25 to 28 per cent of the voting intention - 40 per cent of the voting intention for people under the age of 30," he 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.

His 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.

Mr 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.

Mr 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.

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.

He told SBS that 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.

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