Row over Assange's autobiography

Row over Assange's autobiography

According to the publisher, Canongate, the book will be sold in shops and online from today, but Assange claims it is a work in progress which has not been checked and that the publisher was trying to profit from a wrong draft manuscript.

The book, titled Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography, recounts his early life in Australia and how he became entranced by computers  to the founding of the controversial website.

Canongate said that Assange had worked with a ghostwriter, but later backed out and tried to cancel his contract. It said Assange had been paid an advance and since he had not repaid it, it had decided to publish the first draft received in March.

Assange said in a statement: "The events surrounding its unauthorised publication by Canongate are not about freedom of information. They are about old-fashioned opportunism and duplicity - screwing people over to make a buck."

Publisher Canongate said today it was the first draft of Assange's autobiography as delivered to them in March 2011, and that they were going ahead with publication despite Assange's attempts to prevent them.

Canongate said in a statement: "On 7 June 2011, with 38 publishing houses around the world committed to releasing the book, Julian told us he wanted to cancel his contract. However, he had already signed his advance over to his lawyers to settle his legal bills."

"We have decided to honour that contract and to publish. Once the advance has been earned out, we will continue to honour the contract and pay Julian royalties," It added.

According to the publisher, "despite sitting for more than 50 hours of taped interviews and spending many late nights at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk (where he was – and still is – living under house arrest) discussing his life and the work of WikiLeaks with the writer he had enlisted to help him, Julian became increasingly troubled by the thought of publishing an autobiography".

Canongate said: "After reading the first draft of the book that was delivered to the publishers at the end of March, he declared: 'All memoir is prostitution.' On 7 June 2011, Julian told Canongate he wanted to cancel his contract".

The publisher added: "However, he had already signed his advance over to his lawyers to settle his legal bills and has not repaid the advance owed since. So the contract still stands and Canongate has decided to honour it and publish the autobiography."

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