Julian Assange: Statement on the Unauthorised, Secret Publishing of the Julian Assange “autobiography” by Canongate

Julian Assange Press Statement on the Unauthorised “Autobiography”: Thursday 22nd September 2011, 0100

I have learned today through an article in The Independent that my publisher, Canongate, has secretly distributed an unauthorised 70,000 word first draft of what was going to be my autobiography. According to The Independent, Canongate “enacted a huge security operation to secretly ship books out to thousands of stores nationwide without tipping anyone off as to the content of the book”. It will be in the bookshops tomorrow.

I am not “the writer” of this book. I own the copyright of the manuscript, which was written by Andrew O’Hagan. By publishing this draft against my wishes Canongate has acted in breach of contract, in breach of confidence, in breach of my creative rights and in breach of personal assurances. The US publisher, Knopf, withdrew from the deal when it learned of Canongate’s intentions to publish without my consent. This book was meant to be about my life’s struggle for justice through access to knowledge. It has turned into something else. 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.

On 20 December 2010, three days after being released from prison and while under house arrest, I signed a contract with Canongate and US publisher Knopf. In it I agreed to authorise a 100,000-150,000 word book – part memoir, part manifesto – in order to fund legal defences and to contribute towards WikiLeaks’ operating costs. On the 7th of December 2010 Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and Western Union folded to US pressure by arbitrarily and unlawfully cutting WikiLeaks off of its financial lifeline. The blockade continues. The European Commission is due to issue its first findings in October. My legal defence fund was similarly targeted and closed.

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