Assange autobiography to hit shelves despite row

AFP , Wednesday 21 Sep 2011

Despite efforts to suppress book, the autobiography of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be released on Thursday

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Julian Assange (AP)

The autobiography of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is to be released on Thursday despite efforts by the Australian anti-secrecy campaigner to suppress the book, its British publisher said.

The book, "Julian Assange: The Unauthorised Autobiography" reportedly includes his first direct comments on allegations of rape in Sweden that led to him fighting an extradition battle in Britain.

Publisher Canongate said 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.

"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," said Canongate, based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"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."

There was no immediate comment from Assange or from WikiLeaks.

The publisher said Assange had spent more than 50 hours sitting for interviews for the book at a friend's country house in eastern England where he is staying under strict bail conditions.

"Julian became increasingly troubled by the thought of publishing an autobiography. After reading the first draft of the book that was delivered at the end of March, Julian declared, ‘All memoir is prostitution’," it said.

"We disagree with Julian’s assessment of the book. We believe it explains both the man and his work, underlining his commitment to the truth."

Extracts from the book will be serialised from Thursday in British newspaper The Independent, Canongate said.

The paper said on its website that an entire chapter was dedicated to explaining his side of the allegations against him in Sweden, his first full account of the events in which he is accused of sexually assaulting two women.

"I have kept my own counsel about the matter until now," it quotes him as saying in the book.

"It will be difficult to keep anger out of this account, owing to the sheer level of malice and opportunism that have driven the case against me, but I want to make this argument as much as possible in a spirit of understanding."

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