Entertainment & Arts

Publisher looks into Mortenson book fabrication claims

Afghan school girls - 2011
Image caption Mr Mortenson's group, the Central Asia Institute, says it has established more than 170 schools

Greg Mortenson's best-selling memoir, Three Cups of Tea, is being 'reviewed' by his publisher following claims part of it was fabricated.

The book, which follows Mortenson's mission to build schools across Central Asia, is filled with inaccuracies, US news programme 60 Minutes said.

The report disputed his claims that he stumbled upon a mountain village during a failed attempt to climb K2.

Mortenson has denied the allegations, saying he stands by the book.

The book's publisher, Viking, has said it will investigate the claims made by the programme.

"Greg Mortenson's work as a humanitarian in Afghanistan and Pakistan has provided tens of thousands of children with an education," Viking spokeswoman Carolyn Coleburn said in a statement.

"60 Minutes is a serious news organisation and in the wake of their report, Viking plans to carefully review the material with the author."

Three Cups of Tea was published in 2006 and became a best-seller through word of mouth.

Claims disputed

The book describes how Mortenson, a mountaineer, got lost while trekking in northern Pakistan, only to be rescued by the residents of a remote village. In the book, he says the kindness of those he encountered inspired him to build a school.

60 Minutes, a CBS programme, alleged Mortenson's charitable foundation took credit for building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan which do not exist.

The 60 Minutes investigation said that porters who accompanied Mr Mortenson dispute his claims of being lost and said he did not visit the village until a year after he said he did.

Mortenson told the programme the discrepancy could be because the "Balti people have a completely different notion about time."

The programme also disputed Mortenson's account of being kidnapped in the Waziristan region of Pakistan in 1996.

Mortenson has stood by his story: "It was against my will, and my passports and money were taken from me."

In an interview with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle newspaper, Mr Mortenson, the founder and executive director of the Central Asia Institute (CAI), has accused 60 Minutes' makers of chasing audience ratings and awards.

He said he hoped "these allegations and attacks, the people doing these things, know this could be devastating for tens of thousands of girls, for the sake of Nielsen ratings and Emmys".

The CAI's website says it has established more than 170 schools and helped educate more than 68,000 students.

CAI has answered the questions put to it by the programme in a statement posted on its website.

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