The Complete Sarah Harrison Statement: Analysis

In case you (under­stand­ably) don’t want to click on Wik­ileaks. Analy­sis to fol­low.

Tid­bits, mis­state­ments, and lies to fol­low:

  • Do we know she’s real­ly in Ger­many? There are no pho­tos of this, only a state­ment post­ed to Wik­ileaks’ web­site.
  • Was this meant to dis­tract from the Ger­man par­lia­ment declin­ing to inter­ro­gate Snow­den ear­li­er today?
  • Har­ri­son, though on staff with Wik­ileaks as a “legal advis­er,” only refers to her­self here as a jour­nal­ist — part of this whole crew’s attempt to avoid legal con­se­quences for their actions by claim­ing the man­tle of jour­nal­ism.
  • She does not men­tion vis­it­ing the Russ­ian con­sulate in Hong Kong, and insists it was the revo­ca­tion of Snow­den’s pass­port, and not a col­lec­tive reluc­tance to grant him asy­lum, that stymied his sup­posed trip to Latin Amer­i­ca.
  • Wik­ileaks has pre­vi­ous said Har­ri­son had to stay in Rus­sia because of legal or phys­i­cal threats to her as a per­son. Now, Har­ri­son is say­ing she stayed to ensure “he had estab­lished him­self and was free from the inter­fer­ence of any gov­ern­ment.”
  • (She writes this while not a sin­gle per­son has ever com­mu­ni­cat­ed with him in per­son after he left Hong Kong with­out the pres­ence of Russ­ian secu­ri­ty guards, blacked out vans, and met­al detec­tors.)
  • Her ire over spy­ing is focused sole­ly on the Unit­ed States and no oth­er coun­try.
  • She describes Chelsea Man­ning as hav­ing “serv­ing a 35-year sen­tence for expos­ing the true nature of war.” That isn’t why she was put on court mar­tial.
  •  The defense of Jere­my Ham­mond is fas­ci­nat­ing: rather than not­ing that he broke a ton of laws in break­ing into STRATFOR to steal their email archive (a crime in almost every coun­try on earth), she describes him as a whistle­blow­er being per­se­cut­ed for “alleged­ly pro­vid­ing jour­nal­ists with doc­u­ments that exposed cor­po­rate sur­veil­lance.” Orwell is alive and well.
  • I hope I have shown a counter exam­ple: with the right assis­tance whistle­blow­ers can speak the truth and keep their lib­er­ty.” Except for your pro­tégé cur­rent­ly unable to cross the street with­out his FSB lawyer and armed guards at his side.
  • Glenn Green­wald, Lau­ra Poitras and Jacob Appel­baum are all in effec­tive exile.” Since none have ever been charged with crimes, this is a real­ly weird asser­tion to make. Espe­cial­ly because Green­wald was “in effec­tive exile” for many years before he began pub­lish­ing state secrets.
  • Again, the insis­tence that Bar­rett Brown is a jour­nal­ist and not a crazed extrem­ist who helped Anony­mous break dozens of fed­er­al laws.
  • This one is pre­cious: “My edi­tor Julian Assange has asy­lum over US threats, but the Unit­ed King­dom refus­es to allow him to ful­ly exer­cise this right, vio­lat­ing the law.” No men­tion of Swe­den or sex­u­al assault charges.
  • This, too: “The UK gov­ern­ment also detained David Miran­da under the UK Ter­ror­ism Act for col­lab­o­rat­ing with Lau­ra Poitras and Glenn Green­wald.” That isn’t why he was detained.
  • After claim­ing she is being pros­e­cut­ed for “speak­ing truth to pow­er” as a jour­nal­ist, Har­ri­son neglects to men­tion any pow­er she’s spo­ken truth to. She does not men­tion par­tic­i­pat­ing in theft, help­ing felons flee jus­tice, or endan­ger­ing peo­ple against their per­mis­sion. Nor does she men­tion gen­uine­ly abu­sive gov­ern­ments who engage in ram­pant spy­ing on their own peo­ple — includ­ing the one she just left.
  • In these times of secre­cy and abuse of pow­er there is only one solu­tion – trans­paren­cy.” This is pedantry actu­al jour­nal­ists reject as sim­plis­tic and dan­ger­ous.
  • If our gov­ern­ments are so com­pro­mised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step for­ward to grasp it.” What does this even mean?
  • Pro­vid­ed with the unequiv­o­cal proof of pri­ma­ry source doc­u­ments peo­ple can fight back.” This is all boil­er­plate Assangeist non­sense. And it has not proven true despite sev­er­al mas­sive dumps of said doc­u­ments. Mere expo­sure is just that; absent orga­ni­za­tion and advo­ca­cy it will for­ev­er remain an emp­ty ges­ture.
  • This is our data, our infor­ma­tion, our his­to­ry. We must fight to own it”.” Actu­al­ly, from a legal stand­point — remem­ber the lawyers you keep invok­ing, Sarah? — that is patent­ly false. It is NOT your data, which is why you com­mit a crime by steal­ing it.

So yeah. No real sur­pris­es in the pos­tur­ing here, though the alter­nate uni­verse nature of some of her “points” stand out for rather brazen spin.

 

Now, a more inter­est­ing ques­tion to me is: is Berlin turn­ing into the new nexus for this stuff? Peo­ple work­ing on it seem to be con­cen­trat­ing there. Stay tuned on that front.

 

Statement by Sarah Harrison

Wednesday 6 November 2013, 18:30 CET

As a jour­nal­ist I have spent the last four months with NSA whistle­blow­er Edward Snow­den and arrived in Ger­many over the week­end. I worked in Hong Kong as part of the Wik­iLeaks team that bro­kered a num­ber of asy­lum offers for Snow­den and nego­ti­at­ed his safe exit from Hong Kong to take up his legal right to seek asy­lum. I was trav­el­ling with him on our way to Latin Amer­i­ca when the Unit­ed States revoked his pass­port, strand­ing him in Rus­sia. For the next 39 days I remained with him in the tran­sit zone of Moscow’s Shereme­tye­vo air­port, where I assist­ed in his legal appli­ca­tion to 21 coun­tries for asy­lum, includ­ing Ger­many, suc­cess­ful­ly secur­ing his asy­lum in Rus­sia despite sub­stan­tial pres­sure by the Unit­ed States. I then remained with him until our team was con­fi­dent that he had estab­lished him­self and was free from the inter­fer­ence of any gov­ern­ment.

Whilst Edward Snow­den is safe and pro­tect­ed until his asy­lum visa is due to be renewed in nine months’ time, there is still much work to be done. The bat­tle Snow­den joined against state sur­veil­lance and for gov­ern­ment trans­paren­cy is one that Wik­iLeaks – and many oth­ers – have been fight­ing, and will con­tin­ue to fight.

Wik­iLeaks’ bat­tles are many: we fight against unac­count­able pow­er and gov­ern­ment secre­cy, pub­lish­ing analy­sis and doc­u­ments for all affect­ed and to for­ev­er pro­vide the pub­lic with the his­to­ry that is theirs. For this, we are fight­ing legal cas­es in many juris­dic­tions and face an unprece­dent­ed Grand Jury inves­ti­ga­tion in the Unit­ed States. Wik­iLeaks con­tin­ues to fight for the pro­tec­tion of sources. We have won the bat­tle for Snowden’s imme­di­ate future, but the broad­er war con­tin­ues.

Already, in the few days I have spent in Ger­many, it is heart­en­ing to see the peo­ple join­ing togeth­er and call­ing for their gov­ern­ment to do what must be done – to inves­ti­gate NSA spy­ing rev­e­la­tions, and to offer Edward Snow­den asy­lum. The Unit­ed States should no longer be able to con­tin­ue spy­ing on every per­son around the globe, or per­se­cut­ing those that speak the truth.

Snow­den is cur­rent­ly safe in Rus­sia, but there are whistle­blow­ers and sources to whom this does not apply. Chelsea Man­ning has been sub­ject to abu­sive treat­ment by the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment and is cur­rent­ly serv­ing a 35-year sen­tence for expos­ing the true nature of war. Jere­my Ham­mond is fac­ing a decade in a New York jail for alleged­ly pro­vid­ing jour­nal­ists with doc­u­ments that exposed cor­po­rate sur­veil­lance. I hope I have shown a counter exam­ple: with the right assis­tance whistle­blow­ers can speak the truth and keep their lib­er­ty.

Aggres­sive tac­tics are being used against jour­nal­ists, pub­lish­ers and experts who work so coura­geous­ly to bring truth to the world. Glenn Green­wald, Lau­ra Poitras and Jacob Appel­baum are all in effec­tive exile. Bar­rett Brown is indict­ed for report­ing on uneth­i­cal sur­veil­lance prac­tices. My edi­tor Julian Assange has asy­lum over US threats, but the Unit­ed King­dom refus­es to allow him to ful­ly exer­cise this right, vio­lat­ing the law. The UK gov­ern­ment also detained David Miran­da under the UK Ter­ror­ism Act for col­lab­o­rat­ing with Lau­ra Poitras and Glenn Green­wald.

The UK Ter­ror­ism Act defines ter­ror­ism as the action or threat of action “designed to influ­ence” any gov­ern­ment “for the pur­pose of pro­mot­ing a polit­i­cal or ide­o­log­i­cal cause”. It pre­scribes actions that inter­fere with the func­tion­ing of an “elec­tron­ic sys­tem” (i.e. the NSA’s bulk spy­ing pro­gram) or which the gov­ern­ment alleges cre­ate a “risk” to a sec­tion of the pub­lic. It should be fan­ci­ful to sug­gest that nation­al secu­ri­ty jour­nal­ism which has the pur­pose of pro­duc­ing hon­est gov­ern­ment or enforc­ing basic pri­va­cy rights should be called “ter­ror­ism”, but that is how the UK is choos­ing to inter­pret this law. Almost every sto­ry pub­lished on the GCHQ and NSA bulk spy­ing pro­grams falls under the UK government’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the word “ter­ror­ism”. In response, our lawyers have advised me that it is not safe to return home.

The job of the press is to speak truth to pow­er. And yet for doing our job we are per­se­cut­ed. I say that these aggres­sive and ille­gal tac­tics to silence us – invent­ing arbi­trary legal inter­pre­ta­tions, over-zeal­ous charges and dis­pro­por­tion­ate sen­tences – must not be per­mit­ted to suc­ceed. I stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty with all those intim­i­dat­ed and per­se­cut­ed for bring­ing the truth to the pub­lic.

In these times of secre­cy and abuse of pow­er there is only one solu­tion – trans­paren­cy. If our gov­ern­ments are so com­pro­mised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step for­ward to grasp it. Pro­vid­ed with the unequiv­o­cal proof of pri­ma­ry source doc­u­ments peo­ple can fight back. If our gov­ern­ments will not give this infor­ma­tion to us, then we must take it for our­selves.

When whistle­blow­ers come for­ward we need to fight for them, so oth­ers will be encour­aged. When they are gagged, we must be their voice. When they are hunt­ed, we must be their shield. When they are locked away, we must free them. Giv­ing us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our infor­ma­tion, our his­to­ry. We must fight to own it.

Courage is con­ta­gious.

Sarah Har­ri­son, Wednes­day 6 Novem­ber 2013, Berlin

 

joshua.foust
Joshua Foust used to be a foreign policy maven. Now he helps organizations communicate strategically and build audiences.