Image: Greg Mortenson, Mike Mullen
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley  /  AP
In this July 15, 2009, photo released by Department of Defense, "Three Cups of Tea" co-author Greg Mortenson shows the locations of future village schools to U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the opening of Pushghar Village Girls School 60 miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan.
updated 4/20/2011 7:00:11 PM ET 2011-04-20T23:00:11

The family friend of Greg Mortenson who has stepped in to run the Central Asia Institute while the "Three Cups of Tea" co-author is hospitalized promised Wednesday "full transparency" into how the charity's finances are managed.

Mortenson has been hospitalized in Bozeman and is awaiting surgery next week for a hole in his aortic ventricular wall. He checked into the hospital in the aftermath of reports by "60 Minutes" and author Jon Krakauer that Mortenson lied about events in several parts of his best-selling book and may have financially benefited from the Central Asia Institute.

Anne Beyersdorfer, an independent public relations professional from Washington, D.C., has volunteered to run the Central Asia Institute's operations while Mortenson is hospitalized.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Beyersdorfer declined to speak about Mortenson's condition, but she said he has been overly extended for months and "all that is in in his heart is the mission and the kids."

"He is an amazing human being. He'll be OK. He has a broader perspective than most people I know. We will let him heal and he will probably see this as a teaching experience," she said.

She said attorneys for the Central Asia Institute have spoken with Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock's office, which opened an inquiry into the charity after the reports surfaced questioning how its finances have been managed. She pledged cooperation with Bullock and his staff and said financial information going back years are posted on the charity's website.

"We are all about full transparency and communicating with whom we need to be clear about the works we do," she said.

Beyersdorfer said much of her time has been spent responding to concerns by donors who contributed money to build schools and promote education in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Central Asia Institute also has received a large volume of calls and emails in support of Mortenson, she said.

Beyersdorfer's public relations clients have included political candidates, nonprofit organizations, corporations and industrial firms, she said. She volunteered because of her ties to Mortenson and because she cares about the work he does, she said, but she acknowledged her professional experience will be useful in helping the charity deal with the aftermath of the "60 Minutes" and Krakauer reports.

"Three Cups of Tea" was released in 2006 and sold more than 3 million copies. That notoriety helped Mortenson grow the Central Asia Institute by generating more than $50 million in donations.

According to the charity's website, it has "successfully established over 170 schools" and helped educate over 68,000 students, with an emphasis on girls' education."

Krakauer wrote in his recently published "Three Cups of Deceit" that Mortenson lied about events in his books and about the number of schools he built. Krakauer also reported that charity proceeds were spent on chartered jets, equipment and advertising for Mortenson's books, even though the charity doesn't receive any royalties.

"60 Minutes" reported that only 41 percent of the Central Asia Institutes income goes toward schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A larger percentage is spent on travel and appearances across the U.S., and on advertising and purchases of Mortenson's books.

In a recent interview with Outside magazine, Mortenson said he had done nothing wrong and that much of that money goes toward educating people in the U.S. about the need for the schools.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Author defends ‘Three Cups of Tea’ memoir

  1. Closed captioning of: Author defends ‘Three Cups of Tea’ memoir

    >> author and humanitarian is under fire amid allegations that he fabricated stories his memoir. andrea mitchell has the latest details. good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, meredith. the questions are being asked about greg mortenson , author of "three cups of tea" who has sold millions of books about his work with girls in afghanistan . he's been the hero of the movement to educate girls in afghanistan and pakistan. soldiers deploying to afghanistan are encouraged to read his book. president obama donated part of his nobel prize money to the charity. mike mullen traveled with him and tells the story of the dramatic attempt to climb k-2 and the pledge to his rescuers.

    >> he looked for a way to repay his rescuers and realized what they wanted and needed most was a school.

    >> reporter: it is a story mortonsen told again to natalie morales on "today.."

    >> coming off the mountain i stumbled into a village and saw 78 children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand. i promised to build a school.

    >> reporter: as "60 minutes" reported he didn't hear of the village until his second visit a year after the climb. he was not kidnapped by the taliban . he did build schools but critics say not as many as he claimed. author john krakauer donated to the charity until he got suspicion writing, he's lied about the deeds he's done, the people he met, the number of schools he built. a watchdog group says the charity paid for charter planes and other questionable expenses.

    >> in 15 years they have had only one audited financial statement which came out last fall.

    >> reporter: mortonson is now ducking television articles.

    >> i need to sign these books now.

    >> reporter: he told "outside" magazine, there were some omissions and compressions. there are discrepancies that, again, have to do with compression of events. acknowledging he took literary license.

    >> the standards for nonfiction are clear. you don't compress to the point of telling a story that isn't true relative to what happened. that happened in this case.

    >> reporter: nbc news learned there could be a problem with his second book "stones into schools kwl schools" also a book seller in which he describes this man as a former taliban fighter. when nbc news interviewed him two years ago we could not verify his taliban connection so didn't broadcast the story. other advocates for afghan girls worry the issue will hurt the cause.

    >> the issue of girls' education is more important than any one individual.

    >> reporter: mortonson says the critics are inaccurate but his publisher issued a statement saying they will review the materials with the author. meredith?

    >> thank you very much. just


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