Assange 'proud' of support in Oz
WikiLeaks founder and Australian senate candidate Julian Assange said he was proud of the level of support he enjoyed in his home country, weeks ahead of elections.
The 42-year-old fugitive told Ten Network television in an interview filmed in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and broadcast in Australia that his popularity demonstrated by a recent opinion poll reflected poorly on the ruling Labour Party.
The government staunchly supports the US condemnation of WikiLeaks' disclosure of hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
A national survey by Sydney-based UMR Research found in April that 26% of Australian voters said they were likely to vote for Assange or other candidates running for his WikiLeaks Party at national elections that could be held as soon as September 7.
"I'm obviously proud of that, but it's also something extremely interesting about the Australian people and about what is happening and the perceptions of what is happening in Canberra," Assange said, referring to the national capital.
UMR managing director John Utting told Fairfax Media in April that the poll showed WikiLeaks had "a good chance" of winning seats if Assange ran a clever campaign. A senate seat can be won with as little as 17% of the vote within a state. The online survey of 1,000 voters had a three percentage point margin of error.
A poll published by The Monthly website in June conducted by Melbourne-based Roy Morgan Research found 21% would consider voting for Assange's party, with support greater among women (23% to 20%). The poll was based on a telephone survey of 546 voters from June 4 - 6.
Assange has been campaigning by Skype from a room in the embassy where he was granted asylum more than a year ago to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations.
He said electioneering was difficult from his hot and windowless room in the embassy.
"It's not easy, it's a challenge ... and I'm someone who likes challenges," Assange said. "The situation is difficult here, but I'm doing great work," he added.