UK ECHELON journalist: "Snowden proved spies need accountability"

Legendary investigative journalist Duncan Campbell describes his life of being kidnapped by the London Metropolitan Police's Special Branch, being surveiled and harassed by UK spies and ministers, and reveals the identity of the whistleblower who leaked the details of ECHELON to him.

Campbell's article is accompanied by never-released Snowden docs that demonstrate the full scope of ECHELON surveillance, and traces the lineage of journalists and whistleblowers who took huge personal risks to reveal corruption, criminal wrongdoing, and secrecy among spies and their masters in government.

He also reveals, for the first time, the identity of the whistleblower who revealed the existence of the Menwith Hill mass wiretapping program: "Oliver G. Selfridge, a founder of the field of artificial intelligence and a member of NSA's Scientific Advisory Board until 1993." Selfridge died in 2008.

As our trial started, witness after witness from security sites tried to claim that openly published information was in fact secret. In a typical interchange, one Sigint unit chief was shown a road sign outside his base:

Q: Is that the name of your unit?

A: I cannot answer that question, that is a secret.

Q: Is that the board which passers-by on the main road see outside your unit's base?

A: Yes.

Q: Read it out to the jury, please.

A: I cannot do that. It is a secret.

Official panic set in. The foreign secretary who GCHQ had bullied into having us accused of spying wrote that "almost any accommodation is to be preferred" to allowing our trial to continue. A Ministry of Defense report in September 1978, now released, disclosed that the "prosecuting counsel has come to the view that there have been so many published references to the information Campbell has acquired and the conclusions he has drawn from it that the chances of success with [the collection charge] are not good."

My lawyer overheard the exasperated prosecutor saying that he would allow the government to continue with the espionage charge against me "over [his] dead body." The judge, a no-nonsense Welsh lawyer, was also fed up with the secrecy pantomime. He demanded the government scrap the espionage charges. They did.

GCHQ and Me [Duncan Campbell/The Intercept]