Iraq war whistleblower tells her story

Whistleblower Katharine Gun tells Brut how she tried to have the 2003 Iraq war put on trial.

Breaking the law in order to do so

That’s Katharine Gun, a whistleblower who tried to stop the Iraq War in 2003. She revealed a U.S. plot to coerce members of the UN Security Council to vote in favor of a US-led invasionof Iraq. At the time, Gun was a translator for the UK government, which was in favor of the war. Upon reading the email, she decided to leak it to the British press. The story made front-page news, leading UK intelligence officers to interrogate her and her coworkers.

Intercepting an e-mail that had the potential to prevent the invasion of Iraq

“In January 2003, I received an email from the NSA, which is the US National Security Agency and it was to approximately 100 people at GCHQ. It was from a man called Frank Koza who was head of regional targets in the US, at the NSA, and he wanted UK British assistants to take the information that they gathered from 6 swing nations sitting on the UN security council at the time. So, these were relatively small, in terms of their power at the UN, countries. They wanted information on the diplomats that they could use to “motivate” them, let’s say, to vote for the resolution. In other words, to blackmail them, threaten them, bribe them into voting for this resolution. And that would’ve given legal cover for the Iraq war. It would’ve been authorized by the UN,” Katharine Gun tells Brut.

Consolation for her actions

Accused of high treason, she built her defense by arguing that the invasion itself was illegal, effectively putting the war on trial. The UN vetoed the U.S. resolution to invade Iraq, but an American-led coalition still went ahead, leading to over 8 years of war. Gun’s case came to court in 2004. Within half an hour, it was dropped because the prosecution declined to offer evidence. Gun’s story has now inspired a film starring Keira Knightley: Official Secrets.