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WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison who helped Snowden reach Moscow fears returning to UK

Published time: November 06, 2013 20:26
Edited time: November 08, 2013 12:15
US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden (R) during a meeting with rights activists, with among them Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks (L), at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, on July 12, 2013.  (AFP Photo / Tanya Lokshina / Human Rights Watch)

US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden (R) during a meeting with rights activists, with among them Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks (L), at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, on July 12, 2013. (AFP Photo / Tanya Lokshina / Human Rights Watch)

Sarah Harrison, the WikiLeaks journalist, who accompanied Edward Snowden from Hong Kong to Russia and stayed with him until he was given asylum, says the whistleblowing site lawyers advise her against going home to Britain.

The statement published by WikiLeaks on Wednesday explains how she helped Snowden successfully get Russian temporary asylum, which he received on August 1, despite “substantial pressure from the United States.” 

Harrison, who is 32, says she remained with him in Russia until it had been established that he “was free from the interference of any government.” 

“We have won the battle for Snowden’s immediate future, but the broader war continues,” Harrison writes.

However, she voices fears citing examples of other whistleblowers being persecuted – such as Chelsea Manning, who has just begun serving a 35 year sentence for revealing embarrassing facts about US conduct during the Iraqi war; and Jeremy Hammond, a whistleblower, who is in prison for a decade in New York for allegedly providing   journalists with documents exposing corporate surveillance.

In the UK, her own home, Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for over a year as the UK has refused to grant him permission to leave the embassy. 

More recently, Guardian journalist Glen Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained at London’s Heathrow airport for nine hours – the maximum time permitted – under anti-terrorism laws as he was suspected of transferring Snowden’s files to Greenwald.

Miranda has taken the British government to court to argue that his nine hour detention was unlawful. His lawyers are in the High Court arguing that he was not involved in “terrorism” and his right to freedom of expression was curtailed. 

With all these developments in hand, “our lawyers have advised me that it is not safe to return home,” Harrison concludes from her new home in Berlin.

Despite concerns for whistleblowers’ destinies, Harrison says she was heartened to see people joining her cause to further investigate NSA spying and to offer Snowden asylum in Germany. 

Her fears were echoed by journalists around the world. 

Nozomi Hayase in Culture Unplugged dubbed both Harrison and Snowden as heroes since they didn’t do what they did for personal gain but for the public good and because of “their commitment to what they believe is right.”


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