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Assange penning autobiography to pay legal bills

The public face of WikiLeaks will use the proceeds from a book about his life to bolster his legal defense fund and keep his whistleblower site afloat.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney

Faced with mounting legal bills, Julian Assange has agreed to a $1.5 million deal to write his autobiography.

"I don't want to write this book, but I have to," the controversial WikiLeaks founder told Britain's Sunday Times yesterday. "I have already spent 200,000 pounds ($307,400) for legal costs and I need to defend myself and to keep WikiLeaks afloat."

Assange told the Times that he would receive $796,654 from Alfred A Knopf, his U.S. publisher. A deal with British publisher Canongate would bring in around 325,000 pounds ($501,000). And money from international markets and serialization of the book would bump up the total to at least $1.5 million.

Currently out on bail in England, Assange is wanted for questioning by Swedish authorities over charges of sexual abuse, or "overraskningssex," as it's known in Sweden. Specifically, one Swedish woman claims Assange had sex with her after a condom broke, and another has accused him of having sex without a condom in the first place.

The WikiLeaks founder has long maintained his innocence in the crimes. His supporters believe the charges have been trumped up as a way to silence him following outrage from the U.S. government over his publication of classified U.S. State Department and military documents.

Assange is scheduled to appear in court again on January 11.