JULIAN Assange admits to being an autistic “chauvinist pig” in an unauthorised autobiography published yesterday.
The WikiLeaks founder also rails against his former media partners, calling The New York Times and The Guardian “greedy, reckless, damn-them-all bandits” and “lily-livered gits”.
Ghostwritten by Andrew O’Hagan, the Scottish novelist, Mr Assange’s autobiography is based on 50 hours of interviews at Ellingham Hall, the Norfolk mansion where the Australian is currently staying on bail.
Despite initially agreeing to the book, Mr Assange attempted to block its publication in June.
Canongate, the publisher, printed an early 70,000-word draft regardless.
In a statement released on the WikiLeaks website yesterday, Mr Assange said that Canongate’s decision was “in breach of contract, in breach of my creative rights and in breach of personal assurances. This is about screwing people over to make a buck.”
The £20 ($A31) book, Julian Assange: the Unauthorised Autobiography, deals with Mr Assange’s nomadic childhood in northern Queensland, his conviction for hacking in 1996, and the foundation of WikiLeaks ten years later.
The most controversial passages, however, relate to a 12-day period in August last year, when Mr Assange travelled to Stockholm. He slept with two women there who would later accuse him of sexual assault and rape, allegations that he strongly denies.
In the book, Mr Assange admits that he behaved like “a chauvinist pig”, rarely paying for anything and failing to return the women’s calls.
But the book also reveals his suspicions that it may have all been a trap.
“The US Government … were already talking about ‘dealing with [me] illegally’,” Mr Assange is quoted saying, “by deploying illegal means such as planting drugs on me, ‘finding’ child pornography on my hardware, or seeking to embroil me in allegations of immoral conduct.
“I won’t be winning any prizes… for gentleman of the year when it comes to these women,” he says. “I wasn’t a reliable boyfriend, and this began to figure. Unless, of course, the agenda had been rigged from the start.”
Also apparent is Mr Assange’s visceral hatred for the journalists who collaborated with him in publishing confidential war logs and thousands of diplomatic cables.
Bill Keller, then executive editor of The New York Times, is described as “the weakest and most self-protecting man ever to edit [the newspaper” and “a moral pygmy with a self-justifying streak the size of the San Andreas fault”.
Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist whom Mr Assange refers to only as the paper’s “special investigations reporter”, behaved “like a besotted person, claiming he had done the most work and everything was his idea”.
After WikiLeaks released a video showing two Reuters journalists getting shot from a US helicopter gunship, Mr Assange reveals a wider contempt for mainstream media.
“A lot of people who cover world affairs from Washington are basically stupid,” he says.
The book describes Mr Assange’s unsettled childhood, during which time he moved schools 30 times, as his activist mother and stepfather travelled the country.
“They sent me to some kind of Steiner-style school,” he recalls. “There was a scooter and an obnoxious little girl who wouldn’t share. In accordance with the school’s philosophy, I decided to express myself without hindrance, so I hit the girl over the head with a hammer.”
Fleeing from an allegedly violent partner of his mother, the teenage Assange, who had become obsessed with computer hacking, recalls “an atmosphere like Lord of the Flies, and our lives at the time were filled with a combination of paranoia and guilt”.
When a fellow hacker testified for the State against him, Mr Assange never spoke to him again.
“You don’t get far in this world by overrelying on loyalty. People are loyal until it seems more opportune not to be.”
The book also reveals that Mr Assange has more than two children, in addition to his first son, Daniel.
But women appear only on the periphery of his life. A Russian girlfriend “just brought food as I stayed at the computer”.
When a Christian woman in Australia tried to convert him “with the rise and fall of her bosoms”, Mr Assange noted that he was “exactly what she secretly longed for: a man willing to openly disagree with her father”.