WikiLeaks Posts 'Fifth Estate' Script, Calls Assange Film 'Fiction Masquerading as Fact'
Bill Condon's film, which premiered in Toronto, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
WikiLeaks has posted what it claims is a "mature" version of the screenplay to Bill Condon's Julian Assange film The Fifth Estate together with an essay criticizing the film as inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible.
WikiLeaks posted the version of the script on Friday, Sept. 20, after The Fifth Estate's world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival but before it rolls out theatrically worldwide. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Assange and German actor Daniel Bruhl as former WikiLeaks employee Daniel Domscheit-Berg.
In a 4,000-word essay accompanying the script, the site attempts to discredit the film, calling it “fiction masquerading as fact,” adding “most of the events depicted never happened, or the people shown were not involved in them.”
Assange has been sharply critical of The Fifth Estate, which chronicles the events surrounding WikiLeaks' release of classified U.S. State Department documents in 2010. The essay on the WikiLeaks site disputes the film's central argument: that the 2010 document dump exposed and endangered State Department informants around the world.
The missive also downplays the role of Domscheit-Berg, whom the film depicts as having been Assange's right-hand man at WikiLeaks before their falling out. It also suggests possible political motivations behind The Fifth Estate.
"This film does not occur in a historical vacuum, but appears in the context of ongoing efforts to bring a criminal prosecution against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for exposing the activities of the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department,” the memo says.
Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex-crime accusations.
But the WikiLeaks memo also notes, with a slightly sour tone, that neither the site nor Assange were consulted, nor did they receive compensation from The Fifth Estate producers, DreamWorks, or distributors, Disney, for the film.
The movie was partly based on Domscheit-Berg's book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, and on WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy by David Leigh and Luke Harding, writers for Britain's Guardian newspaper.
After posting the leaked script, WikiLeaks tweeted: "As WikiLeaks was never consulted about the Dreamworks/Disney film on us, we've given our advice for free: It's bad."