Counted amongst the likes of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and John Kiriakou is Katharine Gun, a whistleblower whose actions revealed the shocking underbelly of international politics and also inspired a big-budget movie that introduced many to the issue. Gavin Hood’s 2019 film ‘Official Secrets’ is the thrilling political drama that explores the events that followed British linguist Gun’s 2003 media leak.
The classified email Gun got leaked to The Observer was evidence of the clandestine attempt of the American intelligence to reportedly seek help from the UK in wiretapping the members of the UN Security Council to “motivate” them to vote in favor of the invasion of Iraq. Starring Kiera Knightley, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, and Ralph Fiennes in pivotal roles, the film is one of the more accurate cinematic explorations of real-life instances.
The trials and tribulations of daringly telling the truth and facing its consequences must certainly not be a light burden to bear. Naturally, people are curious to know more about this courageous linguist who stood her ground even as political heavyweights descended upon her. In the movie, her husband (Adam Bakri) is initially portrayed as a civilian, perceiving her job to be mundane. Later, he stands by her as the many intricacies and dangers of his wife’s profession and act of bravery surface. So, where is Gun now? Who is her husband? Let’s find out!
Who is Katharine Gun’s Husband?
Katharine Gun (née Harwood), 47, is married to Yasar Gün, a Turkish Kurd, with whom she has a 13-year old daughter. Following the incident, Gun struggled to find work that she loved, and her husband had grown disillusioned with Britain. Soon after, they moved to Turkey in 2011, and for the most part, the family has stayed away from the public eye. Gun splits her time between Turkey and Britain. Few are aware that her husband had also been thrown into troubled waters when Gun blew the lid off the alleged spy efforts in 2003. Authorities had attempted to deport Yasar back to the Middle East.
In an interview with ‘Democracy Now!,’ Gun explained, “After they charged me, that’s when they tried to deport my husband. He was going in every week to basically prove that he was still resident or that they could pinpoint where he was.” However, during one such trip, her husband was detained by the authorities. “When he didn’t come out, I was panicking, you know, and I ran inside. And they had already taken him down into the custody suite, which is, by the way, where I had been before,” Gun revealed. It was with the help of MP Nigel Jones that Gun finally managed to free Yasar, reasserting his right to stay in the UK.
However, Yasar could not be there for her trial as Gun, and her associates worried that his presence would turn Gun’s story into that of his as a refugee in Britain. “My marriage to my husband was very new at that juncture, and he had a very unstable status in the UK. So I really didn’t want any of that to be scrutinized because it just felt too vulnerable,” stated Gun, on why she chose to retreat from the limelight once the dust had settled. In Turkey, close to her husband’s family, Gun and her partner, Yasar, could raise their child in peace.
Where is Katharine Gun Now?
Although Katharine Gun returned to the public eye in 2019 for the promotional press events for ‘Official Secrets,’ she has largely retreated from the media’s gaze since. Gun is not active on social media and occasionally participates in small-scale conferences and discussions pertaining to politics. “I’m on the whole a fairly shy person,” she confessed in an interview. She continues to reside in Turkey and occasionally visits Britain.
Her act of whistleblowing cost her a career as a translator at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), made her stand in a highly publicized trial for violating the Official Secrets Act, and reduced her chances of getting another job due to being an internationally recognized whistleblower. Therefore, it is not surprising that Gun chose to move away from the center point of all the chaos once it died down.
Initially, Gun decided to teach Mandarin Chinese in Britain. “I was teaching Mandarin in the local college in Cheltenham. I ended up, bizarrely, teaching a couple of my former colleagues at GCHQ. In the very typical British manner, we just pretended we had never met,” she recalled. She then went on to get a Master’s degree in Global Ethics. Gun has spoken at the 51Fest and conferences arranged by organizations such as the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
In April 2020, Gun was set to appear as a speaker at the 14th edition of the International Journalism Festival, but the event was canceled in February of the same year due to COVID-19. Gun thinks she might speak out more considering the current state of political affairs and massive citizen involvement in sociopolitical issues. Many wonder whether Gun’s young daughter has seen the film or been told of the importance of her mother’s extraordinary actions.
“I hope when she’s ready for this story, she will [see the film]. She’s beginning to understand the issues, but she hasn’t seen it yet,” Gun said in 2019 when her daughter was 11-years-old. Gun’s story is not only an inspiration to her own daughter, but also to people around the world trying to be honest and brave citizens. “I think it’s important for people to find that truth and follow through on it,” Gun opined, and it’s certainly worth remembering.
Read More: Is Official Secrets a True Story?