Three Cups of Tea charity now being investigated

The book "Three Cups of Tea" has virtually turned into a storm in a teacup for the author Greg Mortenson.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011, 16:18 PM IST

Washington: The book "Three Cups of Tea" has
virtually turned into a storm in a teacup for the author Greg Mortenson with the Attorney General of the state of Montana
launching an inquiry into whether the author benefited from
money donated to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Steve Bullock, the Attorney General announced in a
statement that investigations into the Montana-based Central
Asia Institute (CAI) being run by Mortenson following an
expose by CBS News "60 Minutes" alleging that Mortenson
fabricated parts of his best-selling memoir "Three Cups of
Tea".

The investigative report aired Sunday alleged that
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.

"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,"
he said in a statement.

Viking Books, the publishers of the book joined the issue
saying it 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.

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

However, Mortenson, 53, defended his book and refuted the
allegations.

"I hope these allegations and attacks, the people doing
these things, know this could be devastating for tens of
thousands of girls, for the sake of Nielsen ratings and
Emmys," Mortenson told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

"I stand by the information conveyed 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," he said.

Mortenson said CAI`s success in fundraising - last year
it raised USD 23.7 million - means it can build 63 new schools
this year, in addition to more than 170 already established.

"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.

As the co-author of the book, along with David Oliver
Relin, I am responsible for the content in the book. There
were many people involved in the story and also those who
produced the manuscript.

What was done was to simplify the sequence of events for
the purposes of telling what was, at times, a complicated
story," he said.

PTI