Countdown Series: Katharine Gun, former GCHQ

Former GCHQ linguist and whistleblower

Katharine Gun is a British linguist who worked as an operator at the UK intelligence and security organisation GCHQ.

In 2003 Gun leaked documents to The Observer in an attempt to prevent the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The documents showed that U.S. intelligence were looking for compromising intelligence on diplomats from member states of the Security Council. These members were due to vote on a UN resolution on the prospective invasion of Iraq. The implication behind the “Dirty Tricks Memo” was that compromising intelligence would be used to coerce diplomats into voting in favour of the resolution.

In November 2003 Gun was charged under the Official Secrets Act. Many high-profile figures came out in her defence including Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers). Ellsberg described Gun’s actions as “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen. No one else – including myself – has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it.”

Gun’s story was told in the film Official Secrets with Gun being played by Keira Knightley. In 2003, Gun received the Sam Adams Award awarded to former intelligence professionals who value truth and integrity no matter the consequence to themselves.

In the following clip Gun adds her support to Craig Murray commending his 20-year fight against corruption.