It began with a tantalizing, anonymous email: "I am a senior member of the intelligence community." What followed was the most spectacular intelligence breach ever, brought about by one extraordinary man. Edward Snowden was a 29-year-old computer genius working for the National Security Agency when he shocked the world by exposing the near-universal mass surveillance programs of the United States government. His whistleblowing has shaken the leaders of nations worldwide, and generated a passionate public debate on the dangers of global monitoring and the threat to individual privacy.
"we are all being scrutinized"
The extraordinary twists and turns of WikiLeaks have been closely followed by the Guardian newspaper ever since the website launched in 2006, and Guardian journalists have had unprecedented access to all the major players, from angry and embarrassed politicians and diplomats to the extraordinary figure of Julian Assange himself. Here they reveal the many strands—legal, ethical, security related—of a story that continues to dominate world headlines.
"You have to listen to this book"
How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia is a brilliant and haunting account of the insidious methods used by a resurgent Kremlin against its so-called "enemies" - human rights workers, western diplomats, journalists and opposition activists. It includes unpublished material from confidential US diplomatic cables, released last year by WikiLeaks, which describe Russia as a "virtual mafia state".
The end for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi when it came, after 42 years of dictatorial power, was ignominious and violent. After months of bloody fighting, the Libyan revolutionary forces had driven their former leader from Tripoli before capturing him in a drainpipe in the city of Sirte. The gory images captured on the mobile phones of the victors were reproduced on newspaper front pages around the world, marking the end of a cruel regime. In the capital, ordinary Libyans explored the once forbidden compound that housed Gaddafi and his family.
It was the biggest leak in history. WikiLeaks infuriated the world's greatest superpower, embarrassed the British royal family and helped cause a revolution in Africa. The man behind it was Julian Assange, one of the strangest figures ever to become a worldwide celebrity. Was he an internet messiah or a cyber-terrorist? Information freedom fighter or sex criminal? The debate would echo around the globe as US politicians called for his assassination.