Assange says he was too busy saving Snowden to help his Party

Summary:Julian Assange has taken responsibility for the apparent disintegration of his WikiLeaks Party, saying he over-delegated to his team while he was busy trying to save the life of US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Victorian WikiLeaks Party Senate candidate Leslie Cannold quit on Wednesday after a dispute over preferences, claiming that the party is failing to live up to its democratic principles.

Her resignation was followed by other senior figures walking away from the party, including a number of people on its National Council.

Julian Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, said he has spent the past two months dealing with the Edward Snowden asylum situation.

"Trying to save the life of a young man," Assange told ABC Television on Thursday.

"So I admit and I accept full responsibility for over-delegating function to the Australian party while I tried to take care of those situations."

He said the nine-hour time difference makes it difficult to be a party leader, and that he hadn't been aware of the internal problems until Wednesday morning.

"I went to sleep last night, and during the night, this whole kerfuffle broke in Australia," he said.

"Leslie didn't speak to me to address any issues or concerns.

"From my perspective, if something is serious, you speak to the party leader about it before you speak to the press."

Dr Cannold's resignation came shortly after the party announced that it is launching an independent review into "errors" made in its preference decisions.

The party faced criticism earlier this week for preferencing the Shooters and Fishers Party and Australia First Party ahead of the major parties and the Australian Greens on its how to vote cards.

Cannold, the No 2 Senate candidate, would have replaced Assange in parliament if he is not able to leave the Ecuadorian embassy.

She said it is possible that other candidates would also quit the WikiLeaks Party.

"I think there are some very serious problems and that's why I felt I had to resign," she told ABC Television.

She, too, said the time difference between the UK and Australia had made communication with Assange difficult.

National Council member Daniel Mathews announced his resignation late on Wednesday night, citing "the recent fiasco over Senate preferences".

Mathews was also critical of Assange for only attending one of 13 National Council meetings.

"Helping Ed Snowden is surely more important than attending a council meeting," he said in a statement.

"But still, attending one out of the first 13 National Council meetings of the party (all of which he could call in to) is a fairly low participation rate in one's own party."

Senior Liberal Eric Abetz said the implosion of the WikiLeaks Party highlights the essential instability of minor parties.

"This is a salutary object lesson on the dangers of voting for minor parties," Senator Abetz said in a statement.

Topics: Government : AU, Privacy, Security

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