Julian Assange is a charming man, a charismatic man. The Wikileaks leader even (maybe) had Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie invited to his birthday party. He fancies himself a decent dinner partner too, as he once sold himself out to the highest bidder. Now, according to a new eBook, he is a master seducer. British journalist Heather Brooke released an eBook Thursday about following Julian Assange around at the height of the Wikileaks controversies. She became quite close to the man, according to the Amazon blurb about the book. "To her, the platinum-haired idealist is a magnetic personality and a charismatic crusader on a mission to expose suppressed and censored injustice," it writes. As Today writer Rosa Golijan points out, though, she may have crossed a line during her time with Assange.
Brooke's treatment of Assange is suspect, if only because she seems to have a crush on him. Golijan said the book was "dull" until she found a a line in the book about asking, "What was in his soul?" Golijan was intrigued now. The line wasn't Brooke's musings, but her description of what Wikileaks' second-in-command was thinking about while working with Assange. Still, Golijan found the wording weird.
Brooke's description of her first time meeting Assange is when things start to get really strange.
When he has his eyes on me — as he did just now when he was saying that fear exists largely in our own minds — I have the sense he's looking right into my soul. The teenage girl in me swoons madly, but the investigative journalist concludes that the detached/intense thing is a technique he's honed after years of practice to get people to open up and five away their secrets. I have to admit it's pretty effective.
Let's all take a moment, shall we? Fan yourselves off accordingly. At this point Golijan was reading lines aloud to her friend, who asked if it was a romance novel or fan fiction. In case you forgot, this the stare she was swooning over. Golijan lists more ways Brooke describes Assange in the book, and wonders how an award-winning journalist could come across as such a "dreamy-eyed school girl." Brooke describes the moment she became aware of how much she really liked Assange: it was when he dropped an awful pick up line on her.
He sighs. "I just have so much to do."
"Yeah, it's a tough life being a messiah." I joke. There's a pause.
"Will you be my Mary Magdalene, Heather? And bathe my feet at the cross?"
This is a new one on me and now it's my turn to pause. What does a person say to such a question? At that time I did genuinely like Julian. When I'd met him at the conference he was like a bolt of lightning. But even so — foot-bathing? I'd reached a point with Julian where the personal and the professional had begun to blur. He's the world's most famous leaker; I'm a freedom of information campaigner, so we've a lot to talk about. But he was unsettling, even bafflingly, unaware of any notion of personal boundaries.
As a well-traveled purveyor of terrible pick up lines, I feel safe saying this was destined to fail. A study in May said girls were attracted to guys who show lots of pride, but he might have taken things too far. Even in the Amazon review of the book, Brooke's feelings towards him turn. Later in the review she calls him, "a megalomaniac, a hypocrite of the first order, and a threat to the integrity of his own mission." Gawker's Adrien Chen points out a tweet from Wikileaks sent out Thursday where they horribly violate Twitter's 140 character limit. In it, they warn against people, "who constantly invent libels against Wikileaks." Chen did try to console Assange. He offered some words of encouragement, "It's OK. She's just not that into you."