Guardian turns on Assange as he joins the Telegraph
Investigative team publish a tell-all book about Assange as WikiLeaks files come out in the Telegraph
The love affair between Julian Assange and the Guardian appears to be well and truly over. On the day that the newspaper published its heavily-hyped, tell-all biography of the WikiLeaks founder, written by staff journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding, it also ran a less-than-positive story about how the whistle-blowing website works with holocaust denier Israel Shamir in Russia, claiming that the association damages WikiLeaks's reputation.
Meanwhile, over at the Daily Telegraph, stories sourced from WikiLeaks, including the explosive revelations about Lockerbie bomber Adbelbaset al-Megrahi, mysteriously began appearing on its pages.
The fractious nature of the relationship between the Guardian and WikiLeaks came to light in a Vanity Fair article last month, and it was announced that the Guardian's 'exclusive' deal with the website would be coming to an end. It now appears that Assange has hopped into bed with the Telegraph while his former suitor turns on him.
The frothy blurb from the Guardian's PR department selling WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy describes its subject as "one of the strangest figures ever to become a worldwide celebrity". It even describes him as a "platinum-haired hacker" and asks whether he is an "information freedom fighter or sex criminal?"
The newspaper article about Shamir, lifted from Leigh and Harding's book and published in the Guardian, contains little new information - he was mentioned as a WikiLeaks collaborator in articles before Christmas. Indeed, Andrew Brown noted that Shamir's connection raised "uncomfortable questions for WikiLeaks" in an article on Comment is Free in December.
But today's piece concludes: "While the newspapers hammered out a deal to handle the [US embassy] cables in a responsible fashion, Shamir's backstairs antics certainly made WikiLeaks look rather less so."
Leigh and Harding's account also contains gripping details about Assange that might not go down well with the Australian. They include details of how he disguised himself as an old woman because he feared the CIA, not to mention "the extraordinary truth about Assange's childhood" and his birth-father's true identity.
It also expands on the rows between Assange and staff at the Guardian and his other media partners, including the New York Times, which were alluded to in the Vanity Fair article. The people he fell out with included Guardian reporter Nick Davies and editor Alan Rusbridger, who he threatened to sue.
Those problems won't be concerning staff at the Telegraph just yet as they bask in the glory of another scoop, this time courtesy of WikiLeaks, about how a British government minister advised Libya on the release of Megrahi. ·
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