(on 2013-10-09)

RELEASE: Julian Assange Correspondence with The Fifth Estate Star Benedict Cumberbatch

Wednesday 09 October 2013, 17:45 UTC

For Immediate Release

Contact: Trevor FitzGibbon, 202.406.0646, trevor@fitzgibbonmedia.com

RELEASE: Julian Assange Correspondence with The Fifth Estate Star Benedict Cumberbatch

WikiLeaks Founder Declines Actor’s Meeting Invitation in Protest of Film’s Many Falsehoods

As DreamWorks’ theatrical trailer for “The Fifth Estate” airs on televisions nationwide, Julian Assange has released his letter to actor Benedict Cumberbatch who emailed Mr. Assange immediately before principal photography, in January 2013. The actor wanted to meet in-person in order to acquire Mr. Assange’s manner.


In the letter, Mr. Assange expresses his gratitude for the contact made by Mr. Cumberbatch but ultimately declines the invitation out of his concern that such an interaction might appear to legitimize a film intending to misleading the public with numerous inaccuracies. Mr. Assange wrote:

“I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film.

"The United States government has engaged almost every instrument of its justice and intelligence system to pursue—in its own words—a ‘whole of government’ investigation of ‘unprecedented scale and nature’ into WikiLeaks under draconian espionage laws. Our alleged sources are facing their entire lives in the US prison system. Two are already in it. Another one is detained in Sweden.

"Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion. This film is going to bury good people doing good work, at exactly the time that the state is coming down on their heads. It is going to smother the truthful version of events, at a time when the truth is most in demand.

"As justification it will claim to be fiction, but it is not fiction. It is distorted truth about living people doing battle with titanic opponents. It is a work of political opportunism, influence, revenge and, above all, cowardice. It seeks to ride on the back of our work, our reputation and our struggles.

"The film’s many distortions buttress what the prosecution will argue. Has argued. Is arguing. In my case, and in others. These cases will continue for years."

Cumberbatch’s reply to this email was courteous and considered. The actor communicated to Assange that aspects of the film’s script were troubling to him.

In his on-the-record interview with Vogue, actor Benedict Cumberbatch expressed his concern that the movie was “setting [Assange] up as this antisocial megalomaniac.” Another interview published by the Guardian stated that “[Cumberbatch] worried that it cast Assange as some kind of cartoon baddie.” (http://www.theguardian.com/film/201...)


Addressing Cumberbatch in his letter, Assange points to the discredited book (http://exiledonline.com/inside-wiki...) upon which DreamWorks bases its script—to the exclusion of the dozens of positive or neutral accounts of WikiLeaks—as evidence of a slant which DreamWorks purposefully pursued. Mr. Assange articulates a number of reasons for the actor to abandon his role, writing:

“You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. To present me as someone morally compromised and to place me in a falsified history. To create a work, not of fiction, but of debased truth... ”

“Consider the consequences of your cooperation with a project that vilifies and marginalises a living political refugee to the benefit of an entrenched, corrupt and dangerous state. Consider the consequences to people who may fall into harm because of this film.”

“Many will fight against history being blackwashed in this way. It is a collective history now, involving millions of people, because millions have opened their eyes as a result of our work.”

“I believe you are well intentioned but surely you can see why it is a bad idea for me to meet with you.”

“By meeting with you, I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give. ”

Asked for his view, now, on the film, Mr. Assange stated:

“People love the true WikiLeaks story: a small group of dedicated journalists and tech activists who take on corruption and state criminality against the odds. But this film isn’t about that. This is a film by the old media about the new media. Viewers are short-changed. Step one: write WikiLeaks staff out of the story. Where is our primary spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, three time winner of journalist of the year, who we deployed to war-torn Iraq? Where is our courageous journalist Sarah Harrison who spent 39 days protecting Edward Snowden in a Moscow airport - and is now in effective exile from the UK? Step two: write the old media into the story. Instead of the exciting true story, we get a film about a bland German IT worker who wasn’t even there and a fabricated fight over redactions with the old newspapers and the State Department saving the day. The result is a geriatric snoozefest that only the US government could love."



For more information, please contact Trevor FitzGibbon at 202.406.0646 or trevor@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

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