It was great to hear Katharine Gun the GCHQ whistleblower on Saturday Live this morning talking about the morality of the leaker. I suppose the pretext was the banking crisis, but Katharine used the opportunity to explain why she had revealed details of a US/UK spying operation on the United Nations just prior to the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003.
I have a close connection to the story as the journalist who received a copy of the original email request from the States. I published the revelations in the Observer in March 2003. The war went ahead despite Katharine’s efforts.
Katharine was later arrested and charged for breaching the Official Secrets Act, although the case was dropped in 2004 after the government decided it could not challenge her defence of "necessity" – that she was forced to leak in order to prevent the imminent loss of human life.
The story is now the subject of a fascinating book by Marcia and Thomas Mitchell, The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War. But what Katharine was too modest to mention in her Broadcasting House interview is that her story is about to become the subject of a Hollywood movie. Writers Sara and Greg Bernstein have written the scrreenplay and in the next few weeks it will be doing the rounds of the studios.
I’ll keep you posted.
Tags: Cinema, Iraq, Security, Whistleblowing