Greg Mortenson responds to criticism from 60 minutes

Greg Mortenson has responded in a local paper to the criticism in a 60 minutes report. The report had called into question the accuracy of the details in his book “Three Cups of Tea” and said that there were many facts in the book that were not true.

In a prepared statement, Mortenson told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle – a local paper where he lives in Montana – that the accusations against him could hurt the charity efforts going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “I hope these… attacks, the people doing these things, know this could be devastating for tens of thousands of girls,” Mortenson said to the newspaper. Mortenson is of the belief that education of girls is a key to changing society for the better in that part of the world.

There were a number of points that 60 minutes raised about Mortenson’s expedition to K2 and also the subsequent events from then. Mortenson, in this statement, strongly refuted the financial accusations made against him in the 60 minutes report. However, there was one important claim from the book where Mortenson seems to be conceding that it was not accurate.

This claim relates to one of the most powerful stories from “Three Cups of Tea” is when Mortenson said that he abandoned K2, and got lost on the way out of the region. He said that he ended up in a village called Korphe and was nursed to health by the people there. It was from this that he wanted to repay them and start building a school for them.

60 minutes had reported that mountaineer and author Jon Krakauer had spoken to one of the porters who left K2 with Mortenson in 1993. Krakauer claimed that the porter said that Mortenson never went anywhere near Korphe. Instead the story was a fabrication.

“The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993,” Mortenson responded.

He said that the details in the book were condensed so as not to confuse the reader with too much detail. Mortenson appears to be saying that the details were condensed in this section so as not to confuse the reader. It seems as if Mortenson has retreated a bit from the accuracy of this story.

Mortenson said that David Oliver Relin also co-authored the book, but he was alone in the accuracy of the story. Also there were many people who had a hand in completing the manuscript.

60 minutes talked to one of the people in the photo which Mortenson claimed in his book were Taliban and held him hostage. The person said that he was not Taliban and was there to protect him.

Mortenson responds by saying that the people in the photo that he claimed were Taliban and that they were holding him hostage. He says that he was definitely held hostage by these people. In the 60 minutes interview one of those in the picture spoke out and said that they were not Taliban rather protecting Mortenson. He claimed in his book that he was detained for 8 days. “I thought it best to befriend the people detaining me,” Mortenson said. But he also said that those who detained him might have perceived it differently.

In the 60 minutes report, they said that many of the projects for schools were never completed and were done by other companies other than his own. Mortenson says that some of the projects where  charity money was given to schools failed because of a disgruntled former employee. This employee deliberately sabotaged the operations of these schools.

As for the squandering of money on the schools, Mortenson says that the CAI – which overseas the distribution of money to these schools – is in a position to start 63 new schools this year. “I stand by the information … in my book and by the value of CAI’s work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students,” Mortenson said.

This was one of the ways that Mortenson has said something about the allegations. His other prepared statement is on the CAI website.

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle


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