It is not often that a person’s character is revealed in two sentences. But it is tempting to believe that is the case with Katharine Gun.
In 2003, Gun was working as a translator of Mandarin at the government intelligence agency, GCHQ, in Cheltenham. She was 27. The country, at the time, was being drummed into war by the Blair government, desperate to achieve the United Nations’ sanction for the imminent American-led invasion of Iraq. In February that year, Katharine Gun was copied into a classified memo sent to GCHQ by a senior figure in the NSA, its US equivalent. The memo was a top-secret request to monitor the private communication of UN delegates for scraps of information, personal or otherwise, that could be used to “give the US an edge” in leveraging support for the invasion. Katharine Gun leaked that memo to the Observer, in the belief that the revelation of the proposed bugging and blackmail tactics might be enough to stop the war.
Observer - Dirty - Tricks - Splash - Weeks
The Observer published the dirty tricks memo as a front-page splash just over two weeks before the invasion. Gun owned up to the leak a few days later to save her GCHQ colleagues from a witch-hunt. She was arrested and charged with breach of the Official Secrets Act. It was in a police cell that she uttered those two sentences that now seem to define the person she was and is. Gun was asked by Special Branch officers why she had chosen to act as she had. “You work for the British government,” her interrogator said, with a sneer.
“No,” Gun replied, steadily. “I work for the British people. I do not gather intelligence so the government can lie to the British people.”
Years - Katharine - Gun - Words
Sixteen years have passed since Katharine Gun said those words, but they still ring in the...
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