Internet Party's new leader lives in Moscow
The new leader of the Kim Dotcom-founded Internet Party is a 36-year-old Julian Assange supporter living in Moscow.
Suzie Dawson has for months been seeking asylum in Russia, claiming she has been targeted by New Zealand and US intelligence agencies because of her reporting and involvement in campaigns against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the GCSB.
"When I was asked in late January to consider the leadership position it came as a huge surprise to me as I had never considered entering ," she told NZME.
It's not clear if Ms Dawson will campaign on behalf of her party over the next three months, being in self-imposed Russian exile.
"Exile is not a choice and although I seldom talk about the price that I have paid, it has been incredibly high and not just paid by me."
In a transcript of the interview provided by the Internet Party, Ms Dawson says she won't return to New Zealand "while teams of reckless security agents profit off politically persecuting New Zealanders, with no hope of accountability or justice".
At the last election, the Internet Party sided with Hone Harawira's Mana, forming Internet Mana. The gamble didn't pay off, with the combined party not only missing out on getting into Parliament, but Mr Harawira losing his seat.
Dotcom is no longer involved in the Internet Party, Ms Dawson says.
"While the original vision for the party was his, he never reigned over it with an iron fist as some like to fantasise," she told NZME.
Communications director Sarah Illingworth last month confirmed the Internet Party backed Dotcom's belief and publicising of the widely debunked Seth Rich murder conspiracy.
Assange has spent years in exile, living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Neither the Internet Party nor Mana registered in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll.