When WikiLeaks claimed in a tweet that it was assisting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s “political asylum in a democratic country”, there was one detail that apparently confirmed its involvement — that Snowden was travelling with a person whose surname was Harrison.

Sarah Harrison — who WikiLeaks on Sunday published an updated biography for — has been a staff member for more than two years, and is one of Julian Assange’s closest advisers. She began her involvement with the group when as an intern at the U.K.-based Centre for Investigative Journalism, she was assigned to Mr. Assange ahead of WikiLeaks’ publication of the Afghan war logs.

As several key members, including Mr. Assange’s number-two Daniel Domscheit-Berg and several of his associates, left in a dispute with Mr. Assange, she became more important to WikiLeaks and was closely involved in the publication of the embassy cables and with Mr. Assange’s personal legal battles to avoid extradition to Sweden. She has been pictured on numerous occasions attending court with the WikiLeaks founder.

Despite her closeness to Mr. Assange, Ms. Harrison may seem a strange choice to accompany Mr. Snowden, as unlike several people close to WikiLeaks — most notably human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson — Ms. Harrison has no legal qualifications.

Mr. Assange has made several public statements in support of Mr. Snowden and told reporters last week he had been in touch with the whistleblower through intermediaries.

The direct intervention in Mr. Snowden’s situation marks a departure in practice for WikiLeaks — which has previously stressed its arms-length relationship with sources — but is consistent with the organisation’s world view on protecting and supporting whistleblowers. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013

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