Journalist, legal researcher
BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARYIf you had to name the two most significant figures in the global surveillance and online privacy debates, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden would probably the two you went for. But if you had to name the person that links them, there’s only one answer: Sarah Harrison.
Sarah Harrison Overview ‧ read
So who is she? Here’s our biography of Sarah Harrison.
After a gap year traveling and skiing, Harrison began studying for an English degree at Queen Mary University of London. It was while studying in London that Harrison’s future path would be set.
Chance assignment to WikiLeaks
During her internship, Harrison was by chance assigned to work with . She met Assange at a crucial time , just before WikiLeaks published a cache of secret documents on the Afghanistan War in July 2010. The documents revealed hundreds of civilian deaths and other failures by US and allied forces. WikiLeaks’ ability to publish suppressed documents and protect its sources instantly gave the organization a high profile in the world of journalism.
Sarah Harrison’s WikiLeaks career
Harrison has continued to work directly with Julian Assange. She’s been described as one of Assange’s closest advisors, having been “closely involved in the publication of the embassy cables and with Assange's personal legal battles to avoid extradition to Sweden.”
Helping Snowden and other whistleblowers
Harrison spent four months with Snowden. She helped him leave Hong Kong, where he shared the NSA files with and other journalists. Harrison stayed with Snowden during his 39-day stay in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport . And then helped him secure his asylum in Russia.
“When whistleblowers come forward we need to fight for them, so others will be encouraged,” said Harrison in a WikiLeaks statement . “Giving us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it.”
Winning the Willy Brandt Prize for political courage
The SPD said Harrison “exemplifies the pursuit of transparency and its use against escalating surveillance” and “showed great political courage.”
Exile in Berlin
So, like and , Harrison has also moved to Berlin, Germany. She has said she doesn’t feel safe in her home country :
“Free speech and freedom of the press are under attack in the UK. I cannot return to England, my country… If I were to say that I hoped my work at WikiLeaks would change government behaviour, this journalistic work could be considered a crime under the UK Terrorism Act of 2000.”
Behind the scenes hero
Yet since that chance meeting with Julian Assange, Harrison has put her own safety and freedom on the line. She has protected whistleblowers and increased our knowledge of government surveillance and spying. Without Sarah Harrison, the fates of Assange and Edward Snowden could have been much worse. So, for her fearless commitment to truth and freedom, we thank her.
Featured image: “Sarah Harrison 2” by Sunshine Press Productions is licensed under CC-BY-3.0.