According to WIRED, Canongate-published The Unauthorised Autobiography of Julian Assange discloses that a WikiLeaks staff member may have broken the law by hacking into “a journalist’s computer system last year to retrieve a database of documents he had given to the reporter.”
The book was published in the UK last week against Assange’s “wishes,” as iMediaEthics has written. According to WIRED, the book states that a WikiLeaks “colleague,” Smári McCarthy, gave a copy of the diplomatic cables comprising Cablegate to journalist Heather Brooke. As Assange had promised the documents to the Guardian, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and El Pais, Brooke’s copy is described as an “internal leak.”
According to WIRED, Assange is quoted in the book as saying of McCarthy and Brooke:
“He had been asked to work on the cables for a short time to help format them, but, stressed at the workload, he had misguidedly shared them with her – to get some help with the burden of the work involved – under certain strict conditions. He then hacked into the computer remotely and wiped the cables, though it would never be clear whether she had copied them or not.””
But, Brooke had another copy of the file, according to WIRED. WIRED reported that McCarthy stated that Brooke granted him “permission to have remote access to [Brooke’s] system, though not to delete the file.”
As WIRED explained:
“It’s not the first time that the issue of WikiLeaks hacking has come up in connection to journalists. Earlier this year, both the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers suggested that Assange or someone associated with WikiLeaks had hacked into the e-mail accounts of their reporters.”
Read more on WIRED’s site here.
As iMediaEthics noted last week, Assange has stated that he didn’t get to fact check the book.
Meanwhile, Canongate, the book’s publisher, continued to defend its decision to release the book. In an article on the Guardian’s website, the publisher’s Jamie Byng claimed that Assange had “five and a half months to read the manuscript and during this time he contributed not one written word by way of response.”
Further, Byng commented that Canongate tried to fix things with Assange, but ultimately noted that Assange was paid and agreed to a contract.
“With Julian’s book it seems entirely appropriate that the publishing of it should break all the rules,” Byng added.