Assange dons wig in Australian Internet parody

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — In a departure from his public image as the ever-earnest fugitive, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has donned a long blond wig to star in a video parody of an Australian singing legend filmed in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Lip syncing John Farnham’s 1986 hit “You’re the Voice,” Assange made a pitch to Australian voters to back his troubled WikiLeaks Party in national elections Sept. 7.

“We can write what we want to write; we gotta make things leak so we can get much bolder,” the parody version of the song goes.

The 42-year-old Australian is the newly formed party’s star candidate and is running for a Senate seat in the state of Victoria despite being confined to the embassy in London for more than a year.

The footage with Assange wearing the wig to look like Farnham was released online Monday by Australian political satire website Juice Rap News.

Juice Rap News co-creator Giordano Nanni said Assange thought for hours before agreeing to appear in the cameo role.

“We were really impressed— and a little surprised — that Julian agreed to the Farnham idea,” Nanni said in a statement.

Assange last week took responsibility for problems in his political party, saying he had over-delegated to his team while he was concentrating on the cases of Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning and of U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Manning, who was previously known as Bradley Manning, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for giving more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic documents, plus battlefield footage, to WikiLeaks.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia in August against the wishes of the United States.

The party’s second Senate candidate in Victoria after Assange, Leslie Cannold, and several party officials quit last week, saying the party was not living up to it democratic principles.

Cannold said Tuesday that she had been told by electoral authorities that it was too late for her to withdraw from the race. Now, she said if she wins, she would sit as an independent senator.

Cannold, a renowned ethicist, had been regarded as a likely replacement for Assange if he were elected but cannot travel to Australia to take up his Senate seat by July next year.

WikiLeaks Senate candidate for New South Wales state, Kellie Tranter, said Tuesday that “all is well” within the party despite the resignations of Cannold and four of the party’s 11 National Council members.

Tranter, a lawyer and human rights activist, said Assange would feature in more WikiLeaks Party campaign events.

Assange has been campaigning by Skype from a room in the embassy, where he was granted asylum in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations.

Assange argues his extradition to Sweden is merely a first step in efforts to move him to the United States, where he has infuriated officials by publishing secret documents.

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On the Internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWU6tVxzO1I

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