CANBERRA - Fugitive WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in London's Ecuadorian embassy for nine months, has appointed a high-profile opponent of Britain's monarchy to run his campaign for a seat in Australia's upper house of parliament.

Former Australian Republican Movement head and barrister Greg Barns said on Monday he would be campaign director for the WikiLeaks Party spearheading Assange's rare absentee bid for a Senate seat in Australia's September 14 election, which even if successful would not bring him any legal protection.

"It's most definitely a serious campaign," Barns told Australian radio. "He does attract support from across the political spectrum. The party will offer a refreshing change from the Australian government culture of secrecy."

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