Montana AG to investigate Greg Mortenson charity

HELENA, Montana -- The attorney general in the state of Montana has launched an inquiry into the charity run by "Three Cups of Tea" co-author Greg Mortenson.

Attorney General Steve Bullock's statement Tuesday to The Associated Press follows a "60 Minutes" report into inaccuracies in the book.

The report also raised questions whether enough of the money donated to Mortenson's Central Asia Institute was spent on building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Bullock says he has a responsibility to make sure charitable assets are used for their intended purposes. He says he will not jump to any conclusions and that he has been in contact with attorneys for the charity and they have pledged their full cooperation.

Mortenson and officials with the Central Asia Institute did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

Questions over Greg Mortenson's stories
Can Greg Mortenson charity survive scrutiny?

The publisher of Mortenson's best-selling book also announced it was reviewing "Three Cups of Tea" after the "60 Minutes" report.

Viking, the publisher of the memoir, said on Monday that it will review the book and its contents with Mortenson, the New York Times reported.

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

At the heart of Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea" is the story of a failed attempt in 1993 to climb the world's second-highest peak, K2. On the way down, Mortenson says, he got lost and stumbled, alone and exhausted, into a remote mountain village in Pakistan named Korphe. According to the book's narrative, the villagers cared for him and he promised to return to build a school there.

In a remote village in Pakistan, "60 Minutes" found Mortenson's porters on that failed expedition. They say Mortenson didn't get lost and stumble into Korphe on his way down from K2 and that he visited the village nearly a year later.

However, Mortenson defended his version, telling "60 Minutes" on Sunday in a statement that he first visited Korphe in 1993, and went back each of the following three years. He went on to suggest that the discrepancy could be because the "Balti people have a completely different notion about time."

"The concept of past and future is rarely of concern," he said. "Often tenses are left out of discussion, although everyone knows what is implied."

Still, Mortenson, in an interview with The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, seemed to admit that he took some liberties with the Korphe account.

"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," he said.


Click here to read Greg Mortenson's statement e-mailed on Friday, April 15. On Sunday afternoon, April 17, Mortenson e-mailed a longer statement to "60 Minutes." Click here to read it (.pdf file).

On Saturday evening, April 16, the Central Asia Institute's board of directors sent a statement to "60 Minutes," responding to questions we had asked them. Click here to read the statement (.pdf file).