The man who tried to co-write Julian Assange's autobiography
says the Australian can be sexist and anti-semitic as well as
a courageous purser of the truth - so long as it doesn't
relate to himself.
Scottish writer Andrew O'Hagan has penned a lengthy essay
about his three-year relationship with Assange, which started
when he was asked to ghostwrite the WikiLeaks founder's
Like with journalist David Marr's essay on former prime
minister Kevin Rudd, some might accuse O'Hagan of pop
But no one will deny his London Review of Books (LRB) article
is a riveting read.
O'Hagan argues Assange has a habit of self-regard and
"The man who put himself in charge of disclosing the world's
secrets simply couldn't bear his own," he writes of the
failed collaboration which resulted in an unauthorised
biography being published in late 2011.
"The story of his life mortified him and sent him scurrying
O'Hagan believes the computer hacker was worried personal
material - about his stepfather's drinking and the cult
leader who followed his mum - would be used to suggest he was
"He wanted to cover up everything about himself except his
The LRB essay - all 25,000 words of it - contains revelations
from hours of recorded conversations between the pair who
O'Hagan notes that, late at night, Assange would utter "many
casual libels, many sexist or anti-Semitic remarks".
The Australian's girlfriend Sarah Harrison - who in 2013 flew
to Moscow to assist Edward Snowden - told him Assange once
threatened to sack her as his assistant "because I had hugged
another member of staff".
"He openly chats girls up and has his hand on their arse,"
she said, "and goes nuts if I even talk to another guy."
O'Hagan writes that when Jemima Khan publicly turned on
Assange he didn't ask why a loyal supporter might become
aggrieved but rather "made a horribly sexist remark".
The revelations could damage the 42-year-old who is holed up
in Ecuador's London embassy avoiding extradition to Sweden on
sexual assault allegations.
Other titbits appear less newsworthy.
O'Hagan says he often made lunch for Assange who would eat
with his hands "and then lick the plate".
"He eats like a pig ... (and) in all that time he didn't once
take his dirty plate to the sink."
In a damning character assessment he concludes: "(Assange) is
thin-skinned, conspiratorial, untruthful, narcissistic and he
thinks he owns the material he conduits."
For good measure, O'Hagan adds the Australian may have
But it's not all negative.
The former friend says although Assange was unprofessional he
was also courageous.
It was inspiring to see Assange's crew of "sleepy amateurs"
reveal military lies on a global scale and go after a lying
politician or corrupt tin-pot government, O'Hagan
During the Egyptian uprising president Hosni Mubarak tried to
close down the country's mobile phone network that came
"Julian and his gang hacked into Nortel and fought against
Mubarak's official hackers to reverse the process," the
"The revolution continued and Julian was satisfied, sitting
back in our remote kitchen eating chocolates."
O'Hagan believes in WikiLeaks but says Assange was too
obsessed with fame to properly facilitate the editing and
presenting of leaked documents in a way that was of permanent
As for the Australian's current predicament, the Scot insists
he made a massive tactical error in not going to Sweden to
clear his name.