While Marguerite Harrison was in Asia, British journalist Stan Harding began a public campaign for justice. She gave interview to British newspapers accusing Marguerite of betraying her to the Bolshevik authorities. She blamed not only Cheka, but Marguerite and the American intelligence services for the suffering she had endured in Soviet prisons and she demanded restitution.
When Marguerite returned to the United States, she had to respond to Harding’s allegations. In mounting her defense against Harding, Marguerite again pressed the Army to acknowledge that she had worked for the Military Intelligence Division. She believed the military attaché in London had said as much in a conversation reported by the British journal “Truth” in February. According to the article, Col. Oscar Solbert offered to pay Harding an unspecified amount of money if she dropped her public campaign against Marguerite.
The offer outraged Harding even and she told the papers about it..
But Marguerite believed Solbert’s comments now justified a complete acknowledgement that she had been an American spy. Marlborough Churchill was willing to provide the statement, but his successor, Col. William Naylor was not.
Marguerite met twice with Naylor, urging him to acknowledge her work with MID, but he refused. For almost a year, Marguerite had been trying to get the Army to publicly say she had been a spy, but why? When Naylor refused, Marguerite issued her own statement to the newspapers.
Solbert had publicly acknowledged that Marguerite had “rendered valuable service to the American government.” With that admission, Marguerite set out her defense. Although not explicitly stating that she was hired to spy in Berlin, Marguerite said she gathered information for news articles and forwarded reports to MID. She described how she met Harding in Germany and learned that she was sending intelligence reports to the British government. Marguerite wrote that she pleaded with Mogilevsky to not arrest Harding, but that he refused her entreaties.
Harding not appeased. She demanded a public apology for a system that had led an American agent to denounce an innocent journalist. Newspapers, meanwhile, picked up on the theme of journalism ethics and stressed the evil of allowing intelligence agents to pose as journalists. “An ugly blow at honesty and independence in journalism was struck by the combination of secret agent and special correspondent which some ill-advised American authorities evolved,” the editors of the Manchester Guardian wrote. “But the main thing is the light thrown on this case should make the vicious experiment impossible of repetition.”