Julian Assange Signs $1.3 Million Book Deal

WikiLeaks founder's deal will cover legal costs for himself and website.

ByABC News
December 26, 2010, 5:47 PM

Dec. 26, 2010— -- WikiLeaks.org founder Julian Assange has inked a $1.3 million book deal to cover legal costs relating to his arrest and any lawsuits aimed at his controversial whistle-blowing website.

The book is to be published in the U.S. by the Alfred A. Knopf publishing house, part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group at Random House, and British publisher Canongate.

In an interview with the UK's Sunday Times, Assange, 39, said he is writing the book in order to cover his mounting legal fees.

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

Assange, an Australian national, is fighting extradition from the United Kingdom to Sweden, where two women have accused him of sexual misconduct. He is free on bail in England after being arrested on Dec. 7 in London.

Assange told the British newspaper that he will receive $800,000 from Knopf while his deal with Canongate is worth £325,000, or approximately $502,000.

WikiLeaks came under financial trouble when Paypal, MasterCard and Visa recently cut off all processing of donations to the site. According to Assange, the site has lost approximately $650,000 since this funding was cut off. At its peak, the site was receiving approximately $130,000 in daily donations, he says.

The site, which has been up and running since 2006, has repeatedly created controversy since April, when it released a video of a 2007 Baghdad airstrikethat shows a U.S. army air-to-ground attack that killed two members of the Reuters news staff.

In late November of this year, WikiLeaks and five worldwide newspapers began to leak over 250,000 American military and diplomatic cables from 274 U.S. embassies around the world.

Assange is not the first person from WikiLeaks to ink a book deal. Crown Publishers announced on Wednesday that the site's former spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg, also known as Daniel Schmitt, will be releasing a book in February.