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WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Scores $1.3 Million Book Deal

Callie Schweitzer |
December 27, 2010 | 6:05 p.m. PST


We already knew his memoirs were on the way, but we didn't know just how much money WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was making for his life story.

WikiLeaks' editor-in-chief told the Sunday Times of London that he expects to make at least $1.3 million from book deals.

But he won't be buying fancy cars or taking women on pricey dates with his new income--the controversial Australian behind the anti-secrecy organization said the money will go toward his legal fees.

"I don't want to write this book, but I have to," he told the Times. "I have already spent £200,000 for legal costs and I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat."

TIME reports:

Breaking down the deal and it's reported that Assange is in line to make $800,000 from his U.S. publisher, Alfred A Knopf, with a U.K. deal with Canongate supposedly worth a further £325,000 ($500,000). There is also the serialization factor to be taken into consideration.
(See a TIME cover story on WikiLeaks.)

Assange has previously gone on record stating that legal costs for WikiLeaks as well as his own defense were nearing $800,000. What's more (literally) is that the recent decision by the likes of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal to stop processing donations have cost WikiLeaks $650,000, which could have funded WikiLeaks' publishing operations for six months (the Guardian notes that at its peak, WikiLeaks was taking in $130,000 a day.)

The book will "follow the 39-year-old transparency advocate's journey from his youth as a hacker in Australia to his current status as controversial founder of Wikileaks."

DailyFinance confirms that Knopf, a division of Random House, will publish the book in the U.S., and Canongate will publish the book in the U.K.

"We are very excited to be publishing this book," said a Random House spokesperson. "The work that Assange has been doing at WikiLeaks has tremendous importance around the world."

The manuscript is expected to be delivered in March, with publication plans for later in 2011.

Jokes aside, many are wondering if leaked versions of Assange's memoirs will arrive on the Internet much earlier.

Assange, who founded WikiLeaks, is behind the late November release of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. Only a small fraction of the cables, which have caused great embarrassment for the U.S., have been made available for download so far.

Many U.S. politicians have made it known they are not a fan of Assange.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Assange a "high tech terrorist."

Assange has said the chances of his extradition to the U.S. are "increasingly serious and increasingly likely."

Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the U.S. looking into espionage charges.

But Assange also has his backers.

He has an enormous following on the Internet where a group of hacktivists, who say they support free speech on the Internet, have been targeting sites believed to be impending WikiLeaks' mission including MasterCard, Visa and PayPal, all of whom have denied users the ability to donate money to the anti-secrecy organization.

The group has also attacked Sen. Joseph Lieberman and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's websites.

Film director Michael Moore, MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann, free speech activist and founder of Hustler magazine Larry Flynt and Bianca Jagger have also put their support behind him.

Flynt explains why he's donating $50,000 to WikiLeaks' defense fund in The Huffington Post, praising Assange as a hero and noting, "We should have a ticker-tape parade for this brave man."

"Let's get something straight: Julian Assange is a journalist. You can argue that he is not practicing journalism the way you think it should be practiced -- releasing classified U.S. State Department documents -- but he's a journalist nonetheless," Flynt writes.

TIME magazine readers also chose Assange as their person of the year. Though he won by a wide margin, the magazine's editors would end up choosing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as the official winner.

Assange has been freed from a London jail on bail, where he was fighting charges of rape and other sex crimes, all of which he has denied.

His extradition hearing is currently scheduled for early February.



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