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Julian Assange e-mail to Benedict Cumberbatch leaked? What the WikiLeaks founder said

This Sept. 8, 2013 photo shows actor Benedict Cumberbatch at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. Cumberbatch stars as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in"The Fifth Estate," in theaters on Oct. 18.

Chris Pizzello/AP

Oh, Julian. We can always count on you to "leak" caustic missives for everyone to see.

The latest target of your prose, of course, is Benedict Cumberbatch, your doppelganger in the film about WikiLeaks, The Fifth Estate – a.k.a. the British actor you told to quit the DreamWorks project.

(We would think you'd flattered he was chosen to play you, Cumberbatch being so comely and all. But we digress.)

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Your letter begins on a chumsy note – "I think I would enjoy meeting you" – but it's plain from the start that your "private" e-mail (all 1,100 words of it) is just between you, Benny and the rest of the world.

"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," you write, adding that you don't think much of the DreamWorks research department either:

"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 U.S. military bases as a mechanism to discourage military personnel from communicating with us."

Julian, we get that you're tired of being painted as a radical threat to national securities worldwide. But enough with the melodramatic letters, already. You're starting to sound like Sinead O'Connor's open letters to Miley Cirus here and here, or even worse, the spoof.

Check out the tone of your communication to Cumberbatch: "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."

Does that sound like a personal e-mail or an open letter to you?

As Guardian columnist Stuart Heritage pointed out, open letters – such as Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail – can change the world, but only if they are used judiciously. "Real empowerment comes from picking your targets," Heritage wrote.

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And to paraphrase him, chances are that Cumberbatch doesn't give an expletive about you.

So, Julian, if you really want to take on DreamWorks, why not pitch your argument against the WikiLeaks film as an op-ed in a traditional forum for griping about injustice, such as a newspaper?

Oh, we forgot. That's not your style.

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More


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