Today brought us the rushed release of the 'unauthorised autobiography' of Julian Assange - seemingly the first such unauthorised autobiography in publishing history.
The events leading up to it involve the usual Julian Assange story: Julian befriends someone, they work together, they fall out, and subsequently each party puts out their respective articles explaining why it was the other's fault. Bill Keller (editor of the NYT), Nick Davies (Guardian writer), Daniel Domscheit-Berg (ex-Wikileaks spokesman) have all followed this well-beaten path and so now we come to another Nick Davies, this time the head of publishing house Canongate, to give his version of exactly how the long-awaited autobiography of Julian Assange came to be released without Assange's permission:
Assange has put out his own version of events, here (it's long, but very interesting):
At the heart of it is a contractual dispute: once Julian Assange has been paid his advance and given his draft in to the publishers, can he then back out of the contract even if he can't repay the advance? Can Canongate publish the book without his consent? How much time should Canongate have given him to pay his advance back, and were they wrong to secretly rush it out to publish it once it started to look like he wasn't interested in releasing it in it's current state?
The most dodgy part of Canongate's actions is how they said they would only send a copy of the manuscript to Geoffrey Robertson QC (so that he could check it to ensure that Assange wouldn't end up being legally liable for anything he'd written, as per the initial contract) so long as Assange agreed not to sue Canongate for anything about to do with the book. All very Dodge.
If, like me, you're too busy to read the book, or have a terrible attention-span, then you can read the thoughts of the Guardian team who are reading it as part of their live-blog, here: