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Julian Assange book sparks quarrel

2011-09-26 11:08
Cape Town - With the publication of Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography, the 40-year-old WikiLeaks founder has become the first man in the history of publishing to have an unauthorised autobiography see the light.

The book hit shelves in England on Thursday and has since sparked a nasty quarrel.

Assange claims that he will have to buy the book to see what it says. He called autobiographies "prostitution" and accused the British publisher Canongate of opportunism. Canongate says that Assange distorted the truth.

Assange signed a contract with Canongate and was paid an advance of R13m for his memoires to be written with the help of ghost writer Andrew O'Hagan.

But about three months ago, the situation soured when Assange claimed that he was not comfortable with the manuscript, which he spent more than 50 hours on with O'Hagan. He wanted to review it first.

Assange later asked that the contract be cancelled, but when the question of the advance that had already been paid was raised, the publishers heard that the money had already been used to pay his legal fees.

With no money that could be paid back and no further communication from Assange, publisher Nick Davies says that they had "no choice" but to continue with publication.


Davies also said that he doesn't understand Assange's hostility towards a publication for which "he should be thankful" for at this point. Here Davies refers to the rape charges that hang over Assange's head after sexual encounters with two Swedish women.

Book reviewers have noted that it is obvious why Assange suddenly got cold feet. The hacker and internet publisher realised too late that he was divulging too much, writes Andy McSmith in the Sunday Independent.

In his book Assange writes how as a student he enjoyed staring at passers-by on the street, aware of the fact that they thought they were only seeing another lazy teenager, while he was actually spending his nights hacking NASA's cyber network.

If the book sales meet the expectations, Assange will make a considerable sum out of the royalties.

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