Julian Assange is not terribly impressed with "The Fifth Estate," the upcoming DreamWorks film about him.
On Wednesday, the WikiLeaks founder released a letter he sent in response to an email he received from Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who portrays Assange. Cumberbatch reached out to Assange in January, shortly before filming began.
The enigmatic leaker first thanked Cumberbatch — probably best known for playing Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series "Sherlock" — for contacting him, saying he was "fond" of the British actor's work.
“I believe you are a good person," Assange wrote in his Jan. 15 letter to the actor, "but I do not believe that this film is a good film.
"I believe that you are a decent person, who would not naturally wish to harm good people in dire situations," Assange continued.
"I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about," the Australian citizen explained. "I believe that it is going to be overwhelmingly negative for me and the people I care about. It is based on a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me."
Assange was referring to Daniel Domscheit-Berg's "Inside WikiLeaks," the 2011 exposé written by a former employee of the whistle-blower website.
“You will be used, as a hired gun, to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it," Assange warned Cumberbatch. "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.
"Feature films are the most powerful and insidious shapers of public perception, because they fly under the radar of conscious exclusion," he continued. "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.
Cumberbatch wanted to meet Assange before filming but was ultimately rebuffed. “By meeting with you," Assange wrote, "I would validate this wretched film, and endorse the talented, but debauched, performance that the script will force you to give."
In recent interviews, Cumberbatch defended Assange's leak of classified material, telling the Associated Press there was "strong moral purpose behind his actions."
"The world needed to know," Cumberbatch said.
Last month, WikiLeaks posted the script of "The Fifth Estate" to its website, pointing out what it said were numerous inaccuracies.
Since 2012, Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London after refusing extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in a sex crimes case. Ecuador subsequently offered Assange asylum, but Britain refused to allow him safe passage to Ecuador, resulting in Assange's extended stay at the embassy.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Julian Assange
- Benedict Cumberbatch