WIKILEAKS publisher Julian Assange has confirmed his intention to run as a Senate candidate in the 2013 federal election and will announce the formation of a WikiLeaks political party early next year.
Nearly six months after he sought political asylum in Ecuador's London embassy, Mr Assange doesn't expect his circumstances to change soon.
Although he thinks it "inevitable" that the United States government will eventually drop its espionage investigation into WikiLeaks, he fears such an outcome may be "several years away".
In an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Assange suggested the court martial of alleged WikiLeaks source, US Army Private Bradley Manning, now scheduled for March, would reveal "details … about how [US prosecutors] may have framed a case for conspiracy between … Manning and myself."
"Getting the US investigation dropped, that is our number-one priority," he said.
Mr Assange said plans to register an Australian WikiLeaks party were ''significantly advanced''. He indicated he would be a Senate candidate, and added that "a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public" have indicated their availability to stand for election on a party ticket.
Mr Assange said he is able to fulfil the requirements to register as an overseas elector in either New South Wales or Victoria and that he will shortly take a "strategic decision" about which state he would be a Senate candidate for.
Mr Assange's biological father, John Shipton, has co-ordinated preparations for the formation of a WikiLeaks party, and a draft of the party's constitution has been subjected to legal review.
Registration of the party with the Australian Electoral Commission would require confirmation of 500 members who are listed on the electoral roll. Mr Assange hopes that WikiLeaks' internet presence, which includes a Twitter account with nearly 1.7 million followers and a Facebook page with more than 2.1 million "likes", and the formation of ''friends of WikiLeaks'' groups would mobilise Australian supporters.
He said a WikiLeaks party would advance WikiLeaks' objectives of promoting openness in government and politics, and it would combat growing intrusions on individual privacy.
If Mr Assange were elected but he was unable to return to Australia to take up his position, a nominee would occupy a Senate seat.
Mr Assange said he had been "quite encouraged" by series of published polls through the past two years that showed support for WikiLeaks had remained "consistently high".
Opinion polls this year by UMR Research, the company the Labor Party uses for its internal polling, have suggested that Mr Assange could be a competitive Senate candidate in either NSW or Victoria, most likely fighting it out with the Australian Greens for the last of six seats up for grabs in each state in a half-Senate election.
It is understood Mr Assange has consulted WikiLeaks supporters, including several prominent journalists and legal figures, since he indicated his intention to explore a Senate candidacy eight months ago.
Mr Assange believes "the building of political opposition to the persecution of a media organisation" will lead the US Department of Justice to drop its espionage investigation.