Author-philanthropist Greg Mortenson has a new defender against the accusations that he lied about key passages in his best-selling memoir Three Cups of Tea and has personally benefited from funds raised by his school-building charity, the Central Asia Institute. In a letter to Outside Magazine, Mortenson’s former hiking partner, Scott Darsney, questions the accuracy of allegations made against Mortenson by author Jon Krakauer in the essay Three Cups of Lies and by CBS’ 60 Minutes in an April 17 segment. “If Jon Krakauer and some of Greg’s detractors had taken the time to have three or more cups of tea with Greg and others — instead of one cup of tea with a select few who would discredit him — they would have found some minor problems and transgressions,” Darsney wrote in an email to Outside. “But to the extent to call it all ‘lies’ and ‘fraud’? No way.”
On April 17, 60 Minutes aired a segment investigating Mortenson’s fundraising efforts and several of the stories in Three Cups of Tea, including Mortenson’s claim that he was kidnapped by Taliban fighters. Krakauer, a former Mortenson supporter, told the program that Mortenson has lied about his experiences and the number of schools built by the Central Asia Institute in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Krakauer also claims that the Institute has spent an inappropriate amount of money publicizing Mortenson’s books while receiving none of the revenue from book sales. Mortenson is currently hospitalized awaiting heart surgery in Bozeman, Mont. A request for comment sent to The Central Asia Institute was not immediately returned.