When Katharine saw the e-mail, she had an idea: if she gave it to a newspaper, perhaps they would publish it, and perhaps when the British people saw that their government was willing to help the Americans undermine the UN, they would be shocked. Then, maybe, they would stop thinking emotionally and start thinking logically. If they did that, Katharine believed war could be prevented.
Katharine spent a few days thinking very hard. When she had taken the job at the GCHQ she had had to promise not to reveal any secret information. She realized that, by revealing the information, she would be committing a crime and that she might be sent to prison. But she felt it was something she had to do, so she took the letter to a newspaper, "The Observer." It was published on March 3, 2003 just over two weeks before the war began.
Katharine was immediately arrested and spent a night in jail. Then she was released on bail. During the next eight months she was repeatedly called in for questioning and then released again. During that time Katharine lived a lonely and frightened life. She no longer had her job with the GCHQ. She wanted to find another job but she was afraid of being asked questions about her past employment. She was also afraid of being recognized if she went onto the street, so she spent most of her time in her apartment with the curtains drawn.
On November 13, 2003 she was finally charged with violating the Official Secrets Act. By that time, she had become a hero in the eyes of people who opposed the war. Her legal defence was taken over by the British civil rights organization, Liberty. Her lawyers decided to defend her by arguing that she had not committed a crime. She had revealed secret information, they planned to say, only because she wanted to stop the British government from starting an illegal war. Before the trial, they demanded the government release the documents which, they said, showed that the war was legal. The government refused to do so. The lawyers then said that when the trial began they would ask the judge to force the government to release the documents.
On February 25, 2004, the day before Katharines trial was scheduled to begin, the government dropped all charges against her. Many people thought that they did this because they were unwilling to release the documents Katharines lawyers were demanding. The next day Katharine was free.
- information from: Independent, (London) 04.02.26 (Kim Sengupta);Time, 04.02.02 , (J.F.O. McAllister); Observer, 04.02.22 (Martin Bright) and 04.09.19 (Katharine Gun)';