Greg Mortenson Accused of Fabricating Parts of His Memoir

By Maryann Yin Comment

A 60 Minutes report last night accused author Greg Mortenson (pictured, via) of fabricating parts of his bestselling memoirs and misusing funds from his charity, the Central Asia Institute (CAI).

The report examined three particular issues: (1) Did Mortenson first visit the village of Korphe after a mountain climbing trip as he wrote in his memoir, Three Cups of Tea? (2) Was Mortenson captured by the Taliban as he alleged in his follow-up Stones into Schools? (3) Is the CAI carrying out its charitable mission with the money it collects from philanthropists and donors? According to several sources who were interviewed, the answer is “no” to all three questions.

Former CAI donor Jon Krakauer called Mortenson’s first meeting with Korphe villages “a beautiful story” and “a lie.” Mansur Khan Mahsud denied that the Taliban kidnapped the author.  Mahsud appears in a photograph from the alleged kidnapping, but works as the research director of a respected Islamabad think tank.

The American Institute of Philanthropy, an organization dedicated to examining and rating the practices of charities, claimed that the CAI spends more money domestically on promoting its mission versus building educational centers for young girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, a former CAI treasurer told Krakauer that Mortenson uses the CAI “as his private ATM machine.”

Both Mortenson and the CAI’s board of directors sent statements about the 60 Minutes report. When The New York Times spoke with Mortenson’s publisher, Penguin Group (USA)’s Viking imprint, they responded that their authors “are contractually obligated to [tell the truth].”

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