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Entries in Greg Mortenson (2)

Tuesday
Apr192011

'Three Cups of Tea' Charity Investigated by Montana AG

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HELENA, Mont.) -- Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson's charity will be investigated after questions were raised about how it managed its financial affairs, the Montana state attorney general said Tuesday.

Mortenson's book and his Bozeman, Mont.-based Central Asian Institute were the focus of a segment on CBS News' 60 Minutes Sunday that raised allegations that he fabricated parts of the best-selling memoir and overstated his humanitarian achievements.

The 60 Minutes segment also alleged that the Central Asian Institute took credit for building schools that didn't actually exist or were built by others, and that it spent more money on self-promotion than on humanitarian efforts.

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said Tuesday that he would investigate the issues raised by the report.

"I've been in contact with attorneys for the Institute and they have pledged their full cooperation in addressing our concerns," Bullock said. "While looking into this issue, my office will not jump to any conclusions -- but we have a responsibility to make sure charitable assets are used for their intended purposes."

Mortenson's publisher said Monday that it also wants to review 60 Minutes' allegations that a key section of the book -- how Mortenson got lost while hiking in Pakistan and stumbled upon the village of Korphe, where he was taken in and cared for by the villagers -- is a fabrication.

The central conceit of Three Cups of Tea is that Mortenson's time with the villagers inspired him to return to the region to build a school for girls, setting him off on a campaign to build dozens of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Viking Books, Mortenson's publisher, seemed to support him in a short statement released Monday but also said it would investigate the claims.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr182011

'Three Cups of Tea' Publisher to Review Fraud Charges

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The publisher of Three Cups of Tea said Monday it wants to review 60 Minutes' allegations that author Greg Mortenson fabricated parts of the best-selling memoir and overstated his humanitarian achievements.

A segment of the 60 Minutes news program that aired Sunday reported that a key section of the book -- how Mortenson got lost while hiking in Pakistan and stumbled upon the village of Korphe, where he was taken in and cared for by the villagers -- is a fabrication.

The central conceit of Three Cups of Tea is that Mortenson's time with the villagers inspired him to return to the region to build a school for girls, setting him off on a campaign to build dozens of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

60 Minutes also reported in the segment that the Central Asian Institute, Mortenson's charitable organization, had taken credit for building schools that didn't actually exist or were built by others, and that it spent more money on self-promotion than on humanitarian efforts.

Viking Books, Mortenson's publisher, seemed to support him in a short statement released Monday but also said it would investigate the claims made in the 60 Minutes report.

"Greg Mortenson's work as a humanitarian in Afghanistan and Pakistan has provided tens of thousands of children with an education," the statement said. "60 Minutes is a serious news organization and in the wake of their report, Viking plans to carefully review the materials with the author."

Mortenson defended himself Sunday in an email to supporters before the 60 Minutes segment aired, calling the report that criticized his memoir and accused him of financial improprieties "a distorted picture using inaccurate information."

"As those of you who know me and have supported my work over the years will recognize, the story being framed by 60 Minutes to air in a few hours today -- as far as we can tell -- paints a distorted picture using inaccurate information, innuendo and a microscopic focus on one year's (2009) IRS 990 financial, and a few points in the book Three Cups of Tea that occurred almost 18 years ago," Mortenson wrote in the email Monday.

"The Board of Directors and I made the very difficult decision to not engage with 60 Minutes on camera, after they attempted an eleventh hour aggressive approach to reach me, including an ambush in front of children at a book signing at a community service leadership convention in Atlanta," he wrote. "It was clear that the program's disrespectful approach would not result in a fair, balanced or objective representation of our work, my books or our vital mission."

Among those who have publicly declared their doubt about Mortenson's account of his early experiences in Pakistan is Jon Krakauer, author of the best-sellers Into the Wild and Into Thin Air.

In the email, Mortenson said he had also turned down a request from Krakauer for an interview.

Mortenson also pointed to sexism in the countries where his organization had built schools as a cause of the controversy.

"Afghanistan and Pakistan are complex places, torn by conflicting loyalties, and some do not want our mission of educating girls to succeed," he said.

Three Cups of Tea was co-written with David Oliver Relinhis and has sold more than three million copies worldwide since its 2006 release by Viking, a division of Penguin Books.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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