In defence of Julian Assange

Colin Robinson in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_546 Mar. 08 17.12A great deal has been written recently about the frustrations ofpublishing a book with Julian Assange, mainly in a widely discussed, marathon article for the London Review of Books by Andrew O'Hagan.O'Hagan relates his experiences when working as a ghostwriter on an autobiography of the WikiLeaks leader that ended up being published in opposition to its subject's wishes. I'm the co-publisher of Assange's most recent book (Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet) and I, too, have found the experience frequently exasperating.

Let me give an illustration. It's June of last year and I'm at a party in New York when a friendly, youngish man with a beard and a beer engages me in conversation. He tells me he is a journalist on one of the city's listings magazines and asks what I do for a job. I reply that I'm a publisher and he asks whose books I'm working on. I pick the one writer of whom I'm pretty certain he will have heard. “Well,” I say, shouting to make myself heard above the music, “I've just published Julian Assange.” The young man's demeanour changes abruptly and he fixes me with a sneer. “Assange,” he echoes, “he's a bit of a cunt isn't he?”

I've become wearily accustomed to this over my time working with Assange: the vituperation heaped on my author, the scorn directed at me for giving him a platform. I know the general script that will follow. And, sure enough, here it so often comes, as if read from the page: “I mean, he's a weirdo isn't he? That massive ego. And the sex offences in Sweden.”

It's almost impossible to counter this kind of attitude, with its shallow presumptions about the character of someone never met and the guilt of someone never tried.

More here.