New film to tell the story of former Durham student

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The story of a former Durham University student and her controversial decision to leak confidential government information to the press is set to be made into a film later this year.

Katharine Gun, a graduate from St Mary’s College, became publicly known for leaking a top-secret email from the National Security Agency (NSA), an intelligence organization of the United States government, to the Observer in 2003.

After studying Japanese and Mandarin at the University, Gun became a specialist translator for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), where she would translate Mandarin into English.

She printed the email, which requested help with an illegal operation to spy on the United Nations Security Council at a time when Washington was trying to secure UN approval for the invasion of Iraq, and took it home to give to her friend who had journalist connections.

Gun was sacked and arrested after the email was published in March 2003, and was charged with breaking the Official Secrets Act. However, the case was dropped after the prosecution declined to provide any evidence against her.

The former Durham University student will be played by Natalie Dormer in the upcoming film, Official Secrets, which will also star Martin Freeman, Paul Bettany, Anthony Hopkins and Harrison Ford.

The screenplay has been adapted from the bestselling book by Marcia Mitchell: ‘The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion’.

It has been reported that the cast will begin filming in May 2016.

Photograph: Venus Loi 

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