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Sarah Harrison

Her courage is contagious.

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

It was the summer of this year.

After a few mysterious revelations about the NSA through journalist Glenn Greenwald, the source of those revelations turned up in Hong Kong. The source was Edward Snowden.

Snowden's situation became immediately perilous. He contacted WikiLeaks for assistance. It was decided that someone from WikiLeaks staff be sent to Hong Kong to take care of him. Someone stepped forward.

That someone was WikiLeaks journalist Sarah Harrison.

Sarah knew full well what she was getting into, but seemingly didn't hesitate a second. The US would be going after Snowden like gangbusters. As Snowden himself said, you don't go against the world's greatest superpower and expect a meek response.

The plan was to get Snowden out of Hong Kong and via Moscow and Cuba to a destination in South America where appreciation for 'Gringo' is not exactly at an all-time high. The US tried to get Hong Kong to process their extradition request before Snowden and Harrison left, and the request was in fact still being processed when Snowden - escorted by Harrison - flew to Moscow where they planned to continue onward with Snowden occupying the now-famous seat 17A.

Neither Snowden nor Harrison materialised on that flight, a flight flooded with crazed journalists who kept looking for the two of them as the plane taxied for takeoff. But the US had revoked Snowden's passport at the last minute, and he and Sarah were stuck for the moment in the airport transit lounge where they remained for 39 days.

Sarah knew something like this could happen. Traveling halfway around the world like that, with a superpower breathing down your neck, is wrought with danger, as Evo Morales was later to learn.

Finally on 1 August Snowden and Harrison were able to leave Moscow's airport and have since gone aground in Russia. Snowden has a one year asylum visa; Harrison's status and fate are unknown.

By all accounts, Sarah went into the adventure with both eyes wide open, and in so doing, today stands for one of the most heroic acts of our time. For she is in self-imposed exile - the risk's too great that Cameron's UK will unseal a secret indictment for her as soon as she again sets foot on British soil.

Snowden may make it to South America - he's been offered asylum in three countries - but Sarah Harrison? Her fate is unknown.

Yet she went in with both eyes open. And that takes real courage.

Sarah Harrison's courage is contagious: it's a far, far better thing she's done than most people can imagine.

See Also
WikiLeaks: Profile: Sarah Harrison

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