Assange criticises unauthorised Wikileaks memoir

Cover of the Julian Assange autobiography
Image caption The book recounts the founding of Mr Assange's secret-spilling website

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has accused a UK publisher of a breach of contract for releasing drafts of his autobiography without his approval.

Edinburgh-based Canongate says the memoir will be sold in shops and online.

But Mr Assange says it is an unchecked work in progress and the publisher was profiteering from an erroneous draft.

Canongate says Mr Assange had worked with a ghostwriter, but later backed out and tried to cancel his contract.

The publisher said he had been paid an advance - understood by the BBC to be a substantial six-figure sum - and since he had not repaid it, it had decided to publish the first draft received in March.


Mr 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."

He said Canongate had acted in breach of contract and personal assurances that the draft would not be released without his permission.

The independent publishing firm paid the 40-year-old for the rights to the memoir last year.

In a statement it said: "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."

The book recounts Mr Assange's early life growing up in Australia and how he became entranced by computers - and by hacking - to the founding of the secret-spilling website.

He is challenging a bid to extradite him to Sweden on sexual assault allegations at the High Court.

In extracts published in the Independent newspaper, Mr Assange vehemently denies the allegations regarding two women.

He writes: "I did not rape those women and cannot imagine anything that happened between us that would make them think so, except malice after the fact, a joint plan to entrap me, or a terrible misunderstanding that was stoked up between them.

"I may be a chauvinist pig of some sort but I am no rapist, and only a distorted version of sexual politics could attempt to turn me into one.

"They each had sex with me willingly and were happy to hang out with me afterwards. That is all."

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