A letter written by Julian Assange, founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, was released Wednesday, claiming the new film The Fifth Estate distorts the truth behind the formation and operation of WikiLeaks and will have an overwhelmingly negative effect on himself and the people he cares about.
The letter was in reply to an email from Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Assange in the new film, asking to meet up in person so he could get a better sense of Assange's mannerisms. Assange declined in, explaining in detail his qualms about the film and why it would look bad for him to meet Cumberbatch in person.
The following quotes from his letter adequately summarize his qualms about the film ...
"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."
... And as to why he doesn't think it would be a good idea to meet Cumberbatch in person ...
"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."
... And finally, his proposed solutions to the aforementioned issues with the film:
"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 U.K.? 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 U.S. government could love."
Assange used some pretty strong language to express clearly his disapproval with the film. Reviews from viewers thus far have been mixed, but more people seem to be agreeing with Assange. The Fifth Estate is scheduled for release on October 18, 2013.