Julian Assange’s Memoir Published, Without Consent

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Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

What goes around, comes around.

That’s what politicians and diplomats around the world must be thinking in light of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s recent predicament.

Canongate Books, an independent British publisher, released Julian Assange: The Unauthorized Autobiography Thursday, without Assange’s consent. The book details his childhood in Australia, the rise of WikiLeaks, his account of the sexual assault charges he faced in Sweden, and the ultimate debate over his extradition, the Associated Press reports.

(MORE: WikiLeak Site Comes Under Attack)

“I may be a chauvinist pig of some sort, but I am no rapist,” he says in the book, maintaining that his relationships with the two women who accused him of rape were consensual.

Assange signed a contract with the publishing house in late 2010, collecting a hefty advance which he reportedly spent on legal fees. Working with a ghost writer, Assange spent more than 50 hours in taped interviews before deciding he wanted to cancel the contract.

“All memoir is prostitution,” the publishers claimed he said after reading the first draft in March 2011. Canongate discovered he spent his entire advance and decided to publish the book against his wishes. Assange is claiming the publishers are in breach of contract and accusing them of “opportunism and duplicity.”

But it’s fitting how the man behind the world’s largest whistleblowing operation should condemn the publication of unauthorized documents. Assange ignited a public debate and angered many in his publishing of secret and classified U.S. documents without any consent.

It’s also fitting that Canongate should secretly release the book about the elusive Assange, practicing covert delivery methods. The publishers said they used encrypted laptops and no Internet communication, and only told retailers about the book one day in advance, according to the AP.

“We have had books delivered under a level of security before, but not to this height,” Jon Howells, a spokesman for Waterstone’s book store chain said. “In publishing terms this is real ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ stuff.”

Spy stuff indeed.

MORE: WikiLeaks, ‘The Guardian’ Trade Barbs Over Unredacted Cables 

5 comments
nidodson
nidodson

Part of being an adult is being able to own up to our past, Google search results are no different than freedom of speech and freedom of press, and if these individuals are so insecure about their past that they can't own up to it, it is clearly still very relevant.

MalcolmTucker
MalcolmTucker

Europe has always valued its citizens rights over public corporations ability to make a quick buck.  The motto of the US should be changed to "In Advertising Data We Trust".

IraLivor
IraLivor

All technology arguments aside, about whose responsibility it is to take down the information because of who is hosting the information. The right to be forgotten, an interesting and understanding concept because who doesn't want the right to have that embarrassing memory or a singular mistake to be left in the past? We all want to move forward, but it can be hard to do so when your own history is rubbed in your face. However, to allow the right to be "forgotten" you disallow everyone else's right to "remember".

There are things that are meant to be remembered. The Spanish courts decided that an individual's "private information" should be removed from Google's search results upon request and after being reviewing by Google if the information is "outdated or irrelevant". So, the question becomes "What is and when information is considered outdated or irrelevant?" If Google doesn't make the call, then Spanish citizens individually can take it to court and the court will make such a decision.

Is it either Google's or the courts place to decide what is "outdated or irrelevant?" The population decides what is relevant by the fact they keep reposting information and keep talking about it. Under such a court decisions, the courts could decide that a politician who was convicted of murder should have all search results about the court case be removed because it is now irrelevant. Now such politicians could try to run for office again with no fear that the population that might vote for them will find out about their dark past. The people decide what is relevant and what is irrelevant. It is not the place of courts to decide what information is made available to the public.

Part of the decision that guided the Spanish courts was to protect "private information." But once information comes to the public's attention, is it any longer private and should the original owner of the private information have any control over it? I suppose there is also a question about expected privacy and if information was obtained illegally in the first place, but once the cat is out of the bag, should it ever be expected to be forced back into its prison?

Joe.Blough
Joe.Blough

This sounds like another decision by judges who don't understand technology.


Roberts/Scalia: "Some people have TWO cell phones?"


Kagan: "The justices are not necessarily the most technologically sophisticated people."


TomWard
TomWard

@Joe.Blough  

It's so dumb and impractical that it's almost like a purely symbolic move. Either that or it's like you said and no one told the European Courts of Justice how the internet works.