WIKILEAKS founder Julian Assange has condemned a British publisher for releasing drafts of a memoir without his approval.
British publisher Canongate says the book, billed as an “unauthorised autobiography”, will go on sale in stores and online today.
Canongate paid the 40-year-old Australian for the rights to the memoir last year, and he began working with a ghost writer on the book.
But in an statement released to AP, Assange said Canongate had acted in breach of contract and personal assurances that the draft would not be published without his consent.
Assange said the draft was a work in progress and had not been corrected or fact-checked by him.
He condemned the publisher for “profiteering from an unfinished and erroneous draft”.
Canongate sold rights to more than 30 publishers around the world.
But Canongate said that as he recorded 50 hours of interviews about his life, Assange became increasingly troubled by the prospect, eventually declaring, “All memoir is prostitution.”
The publisher said Assange tried to cancel his contract, but since he had not repaid his advance it had decided to publish the first draft that the WikiLeaks founder delivered to the publisher in March.
Canongate publishing director Nick Davies said Assange’s response to the decision to publish had been “close to outrage” but he said the WikiLeaks chief shouldbe pleased with the result.
“It’s the good and the bad of Julian in there, which ultimately does him some favours,” Davies said.
“He has been portrayed as this Bond villain or a character from a Stieg Larsson novel … but what comes through here is this very human portrait of Julian, warts and all,” he said.
“He’s a warmer character than a lot of people will be expecting.”
In December, Assange said he didn’t want to write a book, but had been forced into the deal to pay his legal bills and keep WikiLeaks afloat.
He said the deal would bring in $500,000 from Canongate and $800,000 from Knopf.
Knopf, a division of Random House, said it had cancelled its contract to publish the book.
“The author did not complete his work on the manuscript or deliver a book to us in accordance with our agreement,” spokesman Paul Bogaards said in a statement.
“We will not be moving forward with our publication.”
Canongate said the book traced Assange’s life from his Australian childhood through his time as a teenage computer hacker to the founding of the secret-spilling website.
It said the book is, “like its author, passionate, provocative and opinionated”.
September 22, 2011 3:50PM