Questions over Greg Mortenson's stories

He has written inspiring best sellers, including "Three Cups of Tea," but are the stories all true?

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We managed to track down the two porters who accompanied Mortenson, and spoke to them in Pakistan's remote Hushe Valley. They also told us that Mortenson did not stumble into Korphe lost and alone, and that he didn't go to Korphe at all until nearly a year later on another visit.

Kroft: He did build a school in Korphe.

Krakauer: He did. ...and it's a good thing. But if you go back and read the first few chapters of that book, you realize, "I'm being taken for a ride here."

It's not a solitary example. Upon close examination, some of the most touching and harrowing tales in Mortenson's books appear to have been either greatly exaggerated or made up out of whole cloth.

Mortenson (in an interview): One of the most compelling experiences I had was in July of '96...I went to the area to find a place to build a school. And what happened is, I got kidnapped by the Taliban for eight days.

The kidnapping story was featured in Three Cups of Tea, and referred to in his follow-up best seller, Stones Into Schools, with a 1996 photograph of his alleged captors.

We managed to locate four men who were there when the photo was taken - two of them actually appear in the picture. All of them insist they are not Taliban and that Greg Mortenson was not kidnapped. They also gave us another photo of the group with Mortenson holding the AK-47.

One of the men, Mansur Khan Mahsud, is the research director of a respected think tank in Islamabad and has produced scholarly articles published in the U.S.

Until recently, he had no idea that he had been shown as a kidnapper in a best-selling book.

We spoke with Mahsud via Skype. He told us he and the other people in the photograph were Mortenson's protectors in Waziristan - not his abductors.

Kroft: The story, as Mr. Mortenson tells it, is that he was held for eight days, and won you over by asking for a Koran and promising to build schools in the area. Is that true?

Mahsud: This is totally false, and he is lying. He was not kidnapped.

Kroft: Who are these people that are also in the picture?

Mahsud: Some are my cousin. Some are our friends from our village.

Kroft: Well, why do you think Mr. Mortenson would write this?

Mahsud: To sell his book.

Another place where no one has done much checking is into the financial records of Mortenson's non-profit organization, the Central Asia Institute, which builds and funds the schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and is located in Bozeman, Mont., where Mortenson lives.

Mortenson says the charity took in $23 million in contributions last year - some it from thousands of school children who emptied their piggy banks to help its "Pennies for Peace" program, and some of it from large fundraisers.