Assange fails in bid to suppress own memoirs

 

The autobiography of Julian Assange is published today despite attempts by the WikiLeaks founder to suppress it after a bitter row with its publisher.

In the manuscript, excerpts of which appear exclusively in today's Independent, Mr Assange addresses for the first time the events that forced him into a costly extradition battle over allegations that he sexually abused two women during a stay in Stockholm last summer.

It appears despite his decision this year to withdraw his co-operation. After protracted efforts to secure either his consent to publication or the return of an advance worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, his publisher, Canongate, has decided to go ahead. The book offers a deeply personal insight into a man who, in less than a year, went from being an obscure former hacker to one of the world's most recognisable faces thanks to his organisation's explosive revelations. A whole chapter is devoted to explaining his side of the Swedish story.

"I have kept my own counsel about the matter until now," he writes. "It will be difficult to keep anger out of this account, owing to the sheer level of malice and opportunism that has driven the case against me."

According to the book Mr Assange had been warned that the US government wanted to set him up. He admits to sleeping with two women but says their allegations that some of the encounters were not consensual are either part of a conspiracy or motivated by his failure to return their calls.

Elsewhere the memoir paints a vivid portrait of a driven but mercurial idealist bent on moulding the world in his own belief of absolute transparency.

It begins with his peripatetic childhood in Australia with his bohemian parents, and describes how he plunged into the underworld of early hacking and later formed WikiLeaks as a whistle-blowing platform. The book also contains bitter rants against his media partners, particularly The New York Times and The Guardian.

But it is his account of his time in Sweden that will draw most attention. "The international situation had me in its grip, and although I had spent time with these women, I wasn't paying enough attention to them, or ringing them back," he states. "One of my mistakes was to expect them to understand this."

Neither WikiLeaks nor Mr Assange responded to The Independent's request for comment last night.

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