British intelligence apparently warned publisher Bloomsbury of a Harry Potter novel circulating online before it was delivered to book stores. GCHQ said it could not comment on "defense against the Dark Arts."
British media was abuzz on Sunday over revelations that national spy agency GCHQ helped protect one of the then-unpublished Harry Potter books from leaks ahead of its release. Although the organization is normally concerned with secret matters pertaining to national security, according to a publisher, it once helped J.K. Rowling keep one of her highly anticipated volumes from falling into the wrong hands.
Speaking with Australia's ABC Radio, Nigel Newton, founder and CEO of Bloomsbury, which publishes the Harry Potter series in the UK, admitted to having help from GCHQ in keeping plot details from the public ahead of the book's appearance on bookstore shelves.
Spies call up publisher
"I remember the British spy eavesdropping station GCHQ rang me up and said 'we've detected an early copy of this book on the Internet'," Newton said, adding that, luckily, that particularly iteration happened to be fraudulent.
"I got him to read a page to our editor and she said 'no, that's a fake'," the publisher said without naming the title, though the timeline of the story makes it likely that it was the sixth novel in the seven-volume series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," published in 2005.
"We fortunately had many allies," in protecting the integrity of the book ahead of publication, Newton told ABC.
According to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, the call prompted Bloomsbury to hire security guards and dogs to watch the press where the book was being printed.
Responding to press inquiries about the incident, GCHQ said "We do not comment on our defense against the Dark Arts," referencing a class taught at the wizarding school attended by the protagonist.
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" then sold more than 9 million copies worldwide within the first 24 hours of its release. The boy wizard will be back with a new adventure this summer, in the form of a play called "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child."