Julian Assange Writes Letter to Benedict Cumberbatch, Slams ‘Wretched Film’

Julian Assange Wirtes Letter to Benedict

WikiLeaks founder explains why he refused to meet with 'Fifth Estate' actor in letter

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, but the controversial activist isn’t happy with the actor’s new WikiLeaks film, “The Fifth Estate.”

Cumberbatch, who portrays Assange in the DreamWorks drama, had apparently reached out to Assange before shooting the film, but the WikiLeaks founder later declined and went on to explain in a new letter why he refused to meet with the British actor while again voicing his displeasure with the film.

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

“Your skills play into the hands of people who are out to remove me and WikiLeaks from the world…I believe that you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise.”

This isn’t the first time WikiLeaks has criticized the Bill Condon-directed drama, which is partly based on the book “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website,” by Daniel Domscheit-Berg.

Last month, the controversial site blasted the new film for its inaccuracies and depictions of the WikiLeaks staff.

“Most of the events depicted never happened, or the people shown were not involved in them. It has real names, real places, and looks like it is covering real events, but it is still a dramatic and cinematic work, and it invents or shapes the facts to fit its narrative goals,” the org wrote.

Read Assange’s letter to Cumberbatch below:

Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2013
From: Julian Assange
To: Benedict Cumberbatch
Subject: Message from Assange

Dear Benedict,

Thank you for trying to contact me. It is the first approach by anyone from the Dreamworks production to me or WikiLeaks.

My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of.

I think I would enjoy meeting you.

The bond that develops between an actor and a living subject is significant.

If the film reaches distribution we will forever be correlated in the public imagination. Our paths will be forever entwined. Each of us will be granted standing to comment on the other for many years to come and others will compare our characters and trajectories.

But I must speak directly.

I hope that you will take such directness as a mark of respect, and not as an unkindness.

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

I do not believe it is going to be positive for me or the people I care about.

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 and my organisation.

In other circumstances this vendetta may have gone away, but our conflict with the United States government and the establishment press has created a patronage and commissioning market – powerful, if unpopular – for works and comments that are harmful to us.

There are dozens of positive books about WikiLeaks, but Dreamworks decided
to base its script only on the most toxic. So toxic is the first book selected by Dreamworks that it is distributed to US military bases as a mechanism to discourage military personnel from communicating with us. Its author is publicly known to be involved in the Dreamworks production in an ongoing capacity.

Dreamworks’ second rights purchase is the next most toxic, biased book. Published and written by people we have had a bitter contractual dispute with for years, whose hostility is well known. Neither of these two books were the first to be published and there are many independent authors who have written positive or neutral books, all of whom Dreamworks ignored.

Dreamworks has based its entire production on the two most discredited books on the market.

I know the film intends to depict me and my work in a negative light.

I believe it will distort events and subtract from public understanding.

It does not seek to simplify, clarify or distil the truth, but rather it seeks to bury it.

It will resurrect and amplify defamatory stories which were long ago shown
to be false.

My organisation and I are the targets of political adversary from the United States government and its closest allies.

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.

It seeks to cut our strength with weakness. To cut affection with exploitation. To cut diligence with paranoia. To cut loyalty with naivety.  To cut principle with hypocrisy. And above all, to cut the truth with lies.

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

The studio that is producing the film is not a vulnerable or weak party.

Dreamworks’ free speech rights are not in jeopardy – ours are.

Dreamworks is an extremely wealthy organisation, with ties to powerful interests in the US government.

I must therefore question the choices and motives behind it: the opportunism, fears and mundanity; the unwritten rules of film financing and distribution in the United States; the cringe against doing something useful and brave.

I believe that you are a decent person, who would not naturally wish to harm good people in dire situations.

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.

Not because you want to, of course you don’t, but because, in the end, you are a jobbing actor who gets paid to follow the script, no matter how debauched.

Your skills play into the hands of people who are out to remove me and WikiLeaks from the world.  

I believe that you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise.

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 and the attempts to destroy us.

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.

I cannot permit this film any claim to authenticity or truthfulness. In its current form it has neither, and doing so would only further aid the campaign against me.

It is contrary to my interests, and to those of my organisation, and I thank you for your offer, and what I am sure is your genuine intent, but I must, with inexpressible regret, turn it down.

Julian Assange

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  1. allen993 says:

    Benedict Cumberbatch Is A Very Good Actor Who Plays A Character Named Julian Assange And I Like His Role And Character Because The Actor Interviews About Him And Even Though I Haven’t Heard Of
    Benedict And His Movie “The Fifth Estate” But I Do Love His Talent As A Character And Julian Is A Best
    Character Benedict Plays And I Apologize For Cussing Him Out The F Word But Ignore The Interest And
    Opinion Of Mr. Allen Wang!

    PS The Fifth Estate Is A Great Film And The Movie Is Awesome And Thrilling And Best Actor Benedict
    Cumberbatch And A Big Thumbs Up Story Of The Year Of 2013! OH, Man, Benedict’s Character I
    s A Menace And I’ll Make Him Famous Into A Infamous Actor!

  2. Nanny Mo says:

    And on that recommendation, I will not be seeing this film.

  3. Bill Rankin says:

    Assange says it all. The movie cleverly distorts the truth about him and WikiLeaks. The actor, Cumberbatch, is foolish for being a part of it. He should have gained a better understanding of the issues before consenting to his involvement. Did his need for a pay cheque override his good sense and integrity? He should understand that he has allowed himself to become a pawn in a very high-stakes game and if he is an intelligent person of conscience he needs to realize he is on the side of morally debased forces.

  4. Christy says:

    I actually love that Julian did this and many websites are publishing this story. At first, I was afraid that this amazing film wouldn’t do well because people weren’t aware of it. Now, people will probably go just to see if what Julian says is true. I love it! Thanks, Julian, and I’m sure that everyone involved in the film appreciates your drawing so much attention to it as well. The quickest way to get anybody to go see or read something is to protest it.

  5. Jim says:

    Julian Assange Writes Letter to Benedict Cumberbatch, Slams ‘Wretched Film’

    Julian! Say “Benedict Cumberbatch” ten times fast!

  6. Bonzo says:

    Assange and Snowden are essentially boring, self-serving trolls for whom few have any respect. They should be deprived of their oxygen, prurient publicity.

    What’s more to the point, if a REAL proper 100% gold stamped hacker comes along, grab him or her and pay them zillions to oversee security? They got in because of superior knowledge above those who set up their targeted system. Get them to construct the ultimate firewall. No point feeding them porridge, you’ll just encourage his brother and all the other flies in the field to take their place?

  7. Winefred says:

    All this communication occurred ages ago as the film was being shot. Assange hasn’t seen it, of course, but he did get his hands on an early version of the script. How? The usual way, I’m guessing. He stole it, the way everything he peddles is stolen from its rightful owners. Assange wrote a puerile, whiney letter, and has released it only now as the film is about to open, possibly to cushion himself against what he thinks will reflect badly on him, but also possibly to boost interest in it, because he is yesterday’s news, and the film is going public at a time when most people are fed up with electronic snoops and hackers who use their knowledge of modern media to exploit those less adept with its technology. Remember that when Assange was fingered for accepting and publishing what treacherous Bradley Manning had stolen, and saw himself endangered by it, he announced that he had “bombshell” material which he would release if he was pursued — in other words, he was quite happy to hold the authorities hostage, and to sit on information in his possession, in order to protect himself. Somehow the need to expose corruption was less compelling than the need to cover his own tail. There are still those who think he’s some kind of hero, but there is much less sympathy for him now, and his relevance is fading, so he’s making noises on the eve of what had already been reviewed as a fairly sympathetic portrayal of him. I suspect the film will fizzle, and Cumberbatch will wonder why he bothered — Assange is way less interesting than when the project was in development, as the movie folks say.

  8. Luis Guillermo Acosta Osorio says:

    Creo que Assange fue valiente al publicar datos secretos,pero tambien puede ser una alerta para la conciencia de las personas y las injusticias que existen en el mundo,realmente creo que Dios,el SeÑOR jESUS Y sus Angeles ,estan mas cerca de lo que pensamos,existe en verdad un infierno,lo aconcejable es no caer en el,porque ni el dinero o la fama, lo pueden evitar.la avaricia en el mundo terrenal existe,pero aveces no es buena y el ayudar a las personas pobres en el mundo el Señor Jesus esta pendiente en esta area.aCTUALMENTE EXISTE UNA GUERRA ESPIRITUAL,Demonios contra Angeles,la Oracion a SAN mIGUEL Arcangel.si lo invocamos el nos ayudara a los Humanos.
    cada persona tiene una mision en esta vida y por algo suceden los acontecimientos,puede ser la pelicula de Mr Assange una forma en que muchas personas,podemos reflexionar,ya sean personas importantes o personas corrientes.pero de todas formas ,tenemos que hacer una reflexion interior,para lograr salvar nuestra alma,que es lo que quieren los seres superiores y el mismo Señor Jesus,junto con sus Angeles..
    Muchas Gracias

  9. Mr. Assange is right but lets not forget that this is a MOVIE not a DOCUMENTARY .. movies are fiction,documentaries are based on the real thing.The reasons on which he declined are completely valid by his and many other peoples point of view,myself included.But i believe that this movie can work also in positive ways despite of its partial inaccuracy,because by watching it many will be intrigued and would want to know what really happened,it might actually help Julians purpose .

  10. Dorian Benais says:

    Hey Dick Delson (commentator on this article), Julian Assange never lived in the US so “coming back” and “free to leave” don’t really apply to him. Julian Assange is anything but a traitor, he runs a website that allows people, like Snowden, to reveal the illegal, immoral activities of governments and corporations worldwide. The press, the 4th Estate, was supposed to be the citizens’ watchful dog but we all know that the mainstream press merely reports and hardly ever (because of relationships and financing) truthfully investigates and exposes. If people like Snowden, who tell the American population “hey, the government has been tracking every single call, email, text message ever, maybe you should know” have to go in hiding because the US gvt wants to send them to jail for life, I don’t think those people are traitors, rather exemplary citizens. Julian is not a coward, he is hiding from a system in which if his defense was “we wanted the people to know” they would still send him to jail because in our legal structures, the “right thing” is not what a judge will rule on (they will look at the broad definition of the espionage act, and just apply it here).

    • renea jones says:

      I thought he was in hiding because he didn’t want to have to possibly go to jail for some type of of sexual battery charge.& Soooo if that is true, those charges is he still a hero or a disgusting pervert? Hmmm

  11. Aileen says:

    He’s just making the film more attractive. Assange could use an editor. fwiw this film would probably otherwise have dropped from any notice. Now…we shall see!

    • Gay Specking says:

      So all of our secrets should be posted on the Internet? We spend a fortune on intelligence and all terrorists or rouge nations have to do is read a website? How would you feel if a security breach like that led to another 9/11?

  12. Kirk D'Amico says:

    If he is not happy with Benedict Cumberbatch imagine what he thinks of Alex Gibney who directed the Wikileaks documentary….I would strongly recommend viewing this documentary and getting a more balanced view of Assange before anyone draws any conclusions.

    • Thomas M says:

      You mean you could extract some useful information from a documentary that is called “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks”? Even though the title itself is already the first lie because the “We steal secrets” part is in no way associated with Wikileaks, but a quote by Michael Hayden about what the CIA does every day. And that is just one example of Gibney’s idiocy.

  13. Maura says:

    He’s not saying for Benedict to “quit Hollywood” – he’s saying question your involvement in this project.

  14. Dick Delson says:

    Assange is a traitor to this country. If he is so sure he’s right, then why is he hiding in a foreign embassy? If he didn’t like the way the country was run, he was free to leave. He should come back and tell his side of the story. But he won’t because he is a coward.

    • Ricardo says:

      Traitor as defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: a person who is not loyal to his or her own country, friends, etc.
      1.one who betrays another’s trust or is false to an obligation or duty
      Assange is an Australian citizen, in case you didn’t know. He is hiding because they are out to get him and his adversaries will stop at nothing, will break any law, violate any process and overstep every duty to achieve this goal.
      The real traitors are those on whom (Wikileaks) blew the whistle on. Our governments are being held hostage by a small group of people who look out for their own interests in detriment to everyone else’s.

      • Justin Baccario says:

        he came into our country and broke our laws. He is a scumbag, he’s not hiding because they are out to get him. They are out to get him because he broke laws WHILE IN OUR COUNTRY. Getting him and detaining him while having knowledge of the information that he STOLE is just a bonus.

      • tbsarg says:

        THANKS FOR SAYING THAT. I can’t believe people call him a traitor…

  15. Linda says:

    How in the world was this letter made public??

    It’s kind of hard to shut down production of a movie the day before it starts filming. The actors, crew, props, director, etc. are already prepared to do it. I wonder if Julian made this plea months before this letter.

    Julian doesn’t suggest Benedict leave the entertainment industry all together; he’s suggesting he leave the big, blockbuster films that tend to overdramatize and embellish the truth just to make more money.

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