British translator arrested

2004 January 26
British translator arrested

Katharine Gun, 29, a translator for the security services at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has been arrested under the Official Secrets Act, and charged with leaking a top secret e-mail.

The former translator sacked from GCHQ claims she leaked an e-mail from US spies asking British counterparts to tap telephones. Katharine Gun intends to deny breaching the Official Secrets Act, because she disclosed the information out of necessity: she was acting to prevent the "illegal war" in Iraq.

Mrs Gun was arrested after the leak of a report that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was conducting a "dirty tricks" operation. The operation was directed against UN Security Council members as part of Washington's battle to win votes in favour of a war against Iraq. The secret surveillance operation involved intercepting the home and office telephone calls and emails of delegates to the UN.

The NSA made clear that the particular targets of what was described as an eavesdropping "surge" were the delegates from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria, Guinea and Pakistan, the six crucial "swing votes" on the security council.

Katharine Gun has said: "Any disclosures that may have been made were justified on the following grounds: because they exposed serious illegality and wrongdoing on the part of the US government who attempted to subvert our own security services and to prevent widescale death and casualties among ordinary Iraqi people and UK forces in the course of an illegal war. I have only ever followed my conscience."

More information:

You can subscribe a letter in support of Katharine Gun at the web site of the National Network to End The War Against Iraq.