Julian Assange’s 1.3 Million Reasons to WriteBy ROBERT MACKEYMatt Dunham/Associated Press
While some banks and credit-card companies have gone to great lengths to cut off the flow of money to WikiLeaks, one company, Random House, has doubled down, paying both its founder and its former spokesman to write insider memoirs about the online publishing platform.
In an interview with London’s Sunday Times newspaper, Julian Assange, the founder and public face of WikiLeaks, said that although he expects to earn at least $1.3 million from the publication of his memoir, he would be writing it reluctantly. “I don’t want to write this book, but I have to,” he told the British newspaper.
“I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat,” he added.
Mr. Assange also told the newspaper that he had already spent more than $300,000 on his legal fight to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct, which he has denied.
Days earlier, AOL’s Daily Finance reported that Caroline Michel, a former Random House executive now with the British-based literary agency Peters Fraser and Dunlop, had brokered deals for Mr. Assange’s memoir to be published in the United States and Britain.
Mr. Assange will reportedly be paid $800,000 by Random House’s Alfred A. Knopf division for the American rights and another $500,000 by Canongate for the British rights. He stands to make more money from subsequent translations and serializations.
Mr. Assange’s agent told Sarah Weinman of Daily Finance that he is supposed to hand in his memoir by March, so that it can be published later in 2011.
That should give Mr. Assange time to respond to whatever his former associate, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, has to say about him in his forthcoming book, “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website,” which is due to be published in February by another division of Random House, Crown.
Mr. Domscheit-Berg, a former spokesman for WikiLeaks, left in 2009 to start a rival site, explaining that he had problems with Mr. Assange and with the organization’s recent focus on leaking American government documents.
Despite his legal troubles and the splintering of his core group, Mr. Assange’s organization still has its supporters. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that fans of WikiLeaks had donated $1.3 million to the organization in 2010 through Germany’s Wau Holland Foundation.
The Journal also reported that a spokesman for the foundation said that it had paid Mr. Assange a salary of about $86,000 for his work on behalf of WikiLeaks in 2010.