Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, has agreed to write a new book detailing his tussles with Google, his publisher, the independent house OR Books, announced.
The book is to focus on the whistleblower’s discussions with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt in a 2011 meeting in London, and is described by the New York-based publisher as “an historic dialogue” between “the North and South poles of the Internet.”
Assange and Schmidt debated issues including bitcoins, the Arab Spring and an overhaul of the naming structure of the Internet -- their radically different perspectives a testament to “a tug-of-war over the Internet’s future,” the publisher said.
It’s the latest in a series of writing adventures for Assange, an Australian-born computer programmer who became world famous when WikiLeaks published leaked classified U.S. State Department diplomatic cables.
In 2010, Assange agreed to a seven-figure book deal with British publisher Canongate and U.S. publisher Alfred A. Knopf for an autobiography. However, less than a year later, he had changed his mind. Canongate went ahead and published a book anyway, calling it an “unauthorized autobiography.”
Details of that publishing fiasco were revealed last month in a 26,000-word article in the London Review of Books written by novelist Andrew O’Hagan, the ghostwriter hired to help Assange with the autobiography. The portrait of Assange that emerges from O’Hagan’s piece is one of a narcissistic, mercurial boor.
“I’d never been with a person who had such a good cause and such a poor ear, nor had I met a head of an organisation with such an unending capacity to worry about his enemies and to yawn in one’s face,” O’Hagan wrote.
“He eats like a pig,” O’Hagan continued. “He marches through doors and leaves women in his wake. He talks over everybody.”
OR publisher Colin Robinson responded to the O’Hagan article with his own commentary in the Guardian defending Assange.
Recounting a recent visit to speak with Assange inside the Ecuadorean Embassy, Robinson wrote: “I don’t know much about what he is like as a person. I am, however, acutely aware of his achievements, which seem to me to be both substantial and generally on the side of justice.”
Assange faces sexual-assault charges in Sweden and, fearing arrest and extradition to the U.S. in connection with the leaked documents, was granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012.