The Gatekeeper Files: Unity4J Co-Founder’s Asylum Application Rejected TWICE

When we left off in “New Zealand’s Traveling Circus Act,” #Unity4J co-founder Suzie Dawson was asking for donations so she could feed her kids and keep a roof over her head after enjoying weeks of travel throughout eastern Europe to countries such as Kazakhstan and Belarus. At the same time, she was also soliciting funds for her legal fees after receiving a 90-day temporary asylum certificate in September 2016 from Russia—news that she kept to herself for over a month until deciding to announce it on Twitter the night of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. After claiming to have been “stalked, surveilled and harassed literally across the world,” Dawson believed that it was “on the strength of a mountain of evidence” that Russia had accepted her asylum application.

Prior to applying for temporary asylum, Dawson had also applied for refugee status but was allegedly rebuffed and politically targeted by Svetlana Gannushkina, a Russian employee working in the UNHCR-approved office in Moscow. After going through Dawson’s paperwork which we assume included a collection of her activism and journalistic endeavors, Gannushkina allegedly became upset because she had been named in some of WikiLeaks’ Cablegate documents. She refused to process or deny Dawson’s application and it is this alleged decision that has inexplicably become a point of contention for Dawson over the course of almost four years. We will address this further into the story.

Unable to file a refugee application, Dawson applied for temporary asylum. According to a 2019 article reporting on the situation:

“The long and short of this is that she [Dawson] applied for temporary asylum on September 29, 2016. The Russian government had three months, or until December 29, 2016, to approve or turn down her application. That same day, on December 29, 2016, Dawson reported that the decision had been delayed until mid-January 2017, because of the holidays. Now, over two years later, she maintains that she still hasn’t received a decision about her asylum application.”

Indeed, by mid-2018, activists and online researchers started questioning Dawson’s asylum story and her innumerable requests that people donate money under the guise that she had been targeted by intelligence agencies since 2013, and that she needed bitcoin in order to survive in Moscow, one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in. After an article was published questioning her situation, Dawson responded with a rebuttal in which she either skewed the facts, outright lied, twisted the words of the author, or basically confirmed what the author had written while bizarrely claiming it wasn’t at all what the author had written. She was eventually forced to explain herself.

The August 23rd Video

On August 23, 2019, Dawson did a live broadcast via Youtube explaining her three-year asylum process and to kick off a fundraising campaign for herself called “#1vs 5i,” which is described as “One woman is taking on corrupt power and needs your help to continue,” whatever that means exactly. Guests on the show included former CIA agent/recruiter John Kiriakou, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, and Vivian Kubrick, who was described by Dawson as a very close friend. In the past, Kubrick would express her pro-Trump views during online #Unity4J vigils and once said last year:

“I’ve got to believe that these people [Gina Haspel] care about the constitution, I mean, I’ve got to believe that people working in the #CIA with the exception of psychos…that they actually really are patriotic.”

Yes, of all the people who care about the U.S. Constitution, Bloody Gina is definitely one of them. New Zealand attorney Craig Tuck who heads LawAid International Chambers was also a guest and introduced as Julian Assange’s attorney. Indeed, in 2019, he announced that he was one of Assange’s new lawyers working in San Francisco and New York City while simultaneously collaborating with the legal team. But the few news sites that mention Tuck as part of the legal team seem to stem from his own statements and press release.

Additionally, WSWS.org, a well-known and respected socialist news website, later described Tuck as Assange’s former campaign lawyer and most people would surely agree that WSWS.org probably didn’t pull that description out of thin air. However, it remains unknown what exactly “campaign lawyer” means but we’re curious if it ties in with Dawson’s #Unity4J campaign.

Why Dawson Allegedly Sought Asylum

During the August 23rd broadcast, Dawson basically regurgitated her 2016 asylum story including the part involving Svetlana Gannushkina and how she sabotaged her refugee application. This time however she added more to the story. As reported in “The Gatekeeper Files: New Zealand’s Traveling Circus Act,” she had been traveling throughout eastern Europe and during that time she indicated in April 2016 that she might be seeking asylum in an unnamed country. It wasn’t until September 2016 that she actually applied for temporary asylum in Russia apparently because of her travels “in and out” of the country. According to Dawson:

“When I originally applied for asylum in 2016 it was somewhat rushed because of the circumstances and serious concerns around my safety were I to travel. My Russian asylum lawyers had advised me that if I continued to take the risk traveling in and out of Russia and if my passport was in fact revoked I would be stuck in a legal no-mans zone and no one would know what would happen to myself or my children. So I compiled hundreds of pages of documents…and I made my application for asylum.”

First, it appears that Dawson had no intention of filing for asylum if it weren’t for her alleged attorney recommending that she do so. So why bring up asylum back in April? Second, the story is oddly reminiscent of Edward Snowden who was left stranded in the Moscow airport after the U.S. revoked his passport. Does Dawson fantasize that she’s the next Edward Snowden? Or does she think she’s Tony Fullman and New Zealand is going yank her passport in a botched spying operation because they think she might be plotting to overthrow the Russian government?

Regardless, if things had become so terrifying for her over the course of the previous four years including sketchy border crossings that she and Craig Tuck mention later in the video, contractors trying to kidnap her in Kazakhstan, and government officials trying to murder her children (See “New Zealand’s Traveling Circus Act”) why did she keep traveling in and out of Russia with two young children in tow?

Dawson’s First Application Is Denied

After burying Russia’s decision on her original temporary asylum application for almost three years, Dawson finally confirmed (we think) in the August 23rd video that they had denied her application:

“The Russian authorities’ response to me or eventual response to my application was that although I had provided evidence of my work and my targeting from a first-person perspective, I did not have testimony of other people to back up the severity of my situation, to prove the severity of of my case. Now, after following through a very very long legal appeal processes over the last couple of years that have dragged on endlessly, I have with the help of my lawyers been able to secure testimony…confirming that yes I am at serious risk of persecution.”

Dawson makes it sound like Russia was all, “We got your application but we need more evidence to back this puppy up so if you could get on that…” Like, we’re not denying your application, we just need some third-party testimony. However, she also mentions long appeal processes which seems to indicate that Russia indeed denied her first application otherwise what would she be appealing? And if that’s not indication enough, she went on to say that she’s trying to reapply for temporary asylum. 

Image taken from the UNHCR Asylum brochure

So Dawson collected third-party testimony from a handful of well-known individuals like John Kiriakou, her long-standing associate Kim Dotcom, and Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, in the form of notarized letters, none of which provide a shred of evidence that she’s been targeted and harassed by foreign and domestic governments, authorities, contractors, or entities.

Refugee vs. Temporary Asylum

Going back to the Russian UNHCR representative Svetlana Gannushkin who allegedly refused to process Dawson’s refugee application, Dawson repeatedly emphasizes to her audience that it is imperative she’s granted refugee status in order to “protect” herself. With that said, it’s unfathomable that anyone would believe Dawson isn’t already aware of the fact that virtually no one is awarded refugee status in Russia. This includes Syrians fleeing their own war-torn country. According to the Syria Program for the Civic Assistance Committee, an NGO that serves as a point of contact for refugees in Russia, only two of 7,000 Syrians living in Russia in 2018 were granted refugee status:

“‘On a scale from zero to ten, the Russian asylum system is pretty much at zero,’ Yastrebov said. ‘I tell people: I have to give you the real picture and the real picture is that Russia is not accepting of refugees.’” 

Even Edward Snowden doesn’t have refugee status. It takes a cold day in hell to be granted refugee status in Russia so why did Dawson choose to go there in the first place if for no other reason than to be turned down so she could add it to her long list of “I’ve been politically targeted” stories.

As for the serious allegations that Dawson has lodged against Svetlana Gannushkin for years (Gannushkin is also a well-known human rights activist in Russia), this investigation demands that Dawson post irrefutable evidence that Gannushkin refused to accept or deny her refugee application and why Dawson couldn’t file a complaint with the UNHCR about this woman four years ago since she’s made her an integral part of the story.

Gannushkin is so important to Dawson that according to the self-exiled journalist it was this Russian woman alone who made it impossible for Dawson to “tick the box” at the top of her temporary asylum application which asked “Have you been registered by the UNHCR as a refugee?” According to Dawson, this meant that her application wouldn’t be governed by international laws and the UNHCR. However, since Dawson is so well-versed on the UNHCR she should have known that the UNHCR has made it clear that “You may submit an application for temporary asylum either before or after applying for refugee status” which means “ticking” some box at the top of a temporary asylum application literally makes no difference. 

Image taken from the UNHCR Asylum brochure

Dawson also states in the video that she needs refugee status while she’s applying for temporary asylum which literally makes no sense. If you have refugee status you don’t need temporary asylum which is the least of Russia’s three asylum protections. For those of you who aren’t familiar, there are three different types of protection you can apply for in Russia: Political asylum, refugee status, and temporary asylum. According to rferl.org, political asylum is issued via a presidential decree and is rarely granted. It’s basically a one in a million shot that even Edward Snowden couldn’t get.

On the other hand, refugee status is granted more freely than political asylum but it’s still not handed out like candy. Far from it. But if you’re one of the few who are able to obtain it, it’s good for up to three years with an annual review and you’re given the right to “temporary accommodation, the right to work without a permit” and the right for your children to receive an education. Anyone with refugee status has “almost all the rights of a normal Russian citizen — except voting rights.”

Then there’s temporary asylum which you normally apply for after you’ve been turned down for refugee status although it’s not required. It allows you to stay in the country legally for one year but you can reapply every year a month before it expires “provided the conditions of the asylum have not been violated” and it’s been described as the “equivalent to Europe’s ‘humanitarian status.’” Those granted temporary asylum can move about the country, work in Russia, and have access to basic state medical insurance.

So again, you’re usually granted either political asylum, refugee status, temporary asylum, or none the above. It’s not all of the above. Then there’s Dawson’s deportation issues:


“I’m going to have to take up my case internationally in an attempt to get that refugee status to protect me but in the meantime I’m not protected.”

“Because I do not have refugee status I am not protected from detention or deportation.”

“My Russian lawyers have said that it’s of vital importance for me to secure refugee status as that prevents me from being detained or deported while I’m trying to reapply for asylum.”

“Now, my lawyers are working hard to get my new application filed but yet again I’m in the same situation that without refugee status…that puts me in this kind of purgatory that is really difficult, obviously really difficult to continue to live under. So I have to worry every time I walk down the street if somebody stops me I could be detained or I could face deportation even though I’ve never broken a law in my life, I’m not a criminal.”

Okay, none of this appears to be true. Dawson does not need refugee status in order to avoid deportation. She just needs to be in the country legally. Instead of traveling around eastern Europe she could have gotten a work visa that’s good for ninety days, extended it to a year, and then renewed it annually after that. Or, if she was granted political or temporary asylum she would not be deported. According to the Russian Federation (our emphasis):

“If you have exhausted the appeal procedure and received final decision on your application, you will be considered by the authorities of the Russian Federation as a person who is staying irregularly in the territory of the Russian Federation. Unless you have legalized your stay in Russian Federation in other ways, you may be subjected to administrative penalties, including fines, detention and deportation or expulsion.”

The only way she would be in trouble is if she stayed in the country knowing she had no legal right to stay in the country just like everywhere else in the world. We call this Common Sense 101. Unfortunately for Dawson who made the claim that she had never broken a law in her life:

“I do not have the documents that are required to have that legal status.”

Perhaps Dawson would like to expand on her statement above because it appears that she admitted during her August 23rd live stream that she was in Russia illegally as if deportation or imprisonment would be a welcome turn of events to add to her “politically targeted” narrative while simultaneously claiming that the virtually unobtainable refugee status alone can save her.

In Russia you are also not subject to deportation while you’re appealing an asylum decision and you can also request that the court extend your initial 90-day asylum certificate during an appeal—two facts that Dawson also fails to tell her audience.

#1v5i and Status of Dawson’s Second Asylum Application

After announcing in November 2016 that she was seeking asylum in Russia, Dawson set out on a campaign to collect as many donations as she possibly could so that she and her children could survive in Moscow. But it’s not just about survival or Dawson’s asylum application anymore. In part two of her August 23, 2019 video, she says that she wants to “hold the people who destroyed my life in New Zealand accountable for what they did…it cost me my house and everything I owned…” and she’s using her #1vs5i campaign to do just that by collecting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” because “if we want these big wins…”

However, if Dawson has never been politically targeted or harassed as we’ve personally concluded, that money will never be spent on a single court case or legal fees. Take for instance in early 2019 when it was reported that the government had forced Dawson to sell her $780,000 New Zealand home (yup, that’s $780,000) “in an effort to break up the Occupy movement.” Dawson emphatically denied it stating that the quote (it was never reported as a quote) was “invented out of whole cloth.” She maintains that she “sold her home under her own steam in 2015.” So which is it? Did she sell her home under her own steam or did the government cost her her home so now she deserves redress using her latest campaign to accrue a small fortune to do just that?

So just to be clear, Dawson now has two fundraising campaigns running for herself: “ProtectSuzie” which has raised almost $4,000 and “1vs5i” which has raised over $13,000.

As for Dawson’s asylum woes, she reapplied for temporary asylum shortly after the August 23rd video. She posted at least four more videos after that updating her asylum status and promoting the #1vs5i campaign, each of them containing a link to a donation page in the video description. Then, on September 12, 2019, she stated that Russia had accepted her second application for review and that she would have a decision in 90 days, the exact same protocol that was literally reported back in early 2019, when activists started questioning Dawson’s story.

But rather than Dawson responding to the story with any level of transparency about her asylum in Russia she wrote an entire rebuttal disputing the story’s statements which she herself just confirmed in this video. Then, her and her #Unity4J associates including @An0nAKn0wledge, a self-proclaimed member of Anonymous who likes to use the collective to threaten people online (abuse and misogyny within the activist community will have to wait another day) went on the attack for people merely retweeting the report:


“It is unseemly, damaging to me (and potentially disturbing to your clients) for two-well known attorneys for whistleblowers to be circulating defamations of an asylum-seeker. In good faith, read this, retract & apologise @JesselynRadack @TorEkelandPLLC” — Suzie Dawson to attorneys Jesselyn Radack and Tor Ekeland

“This ac-cunt @jimmysllama owes @Suzi3d, @LizActivate @AnonScan & many others an apology. They should immediately retract their flawed hit piece that just defames numerous individuals & fails to look into their own personal stories. Her article is a defamation lawyers’ wet dream.” — @An0nAKn0wledge

“The entire article Llama wrote was a flawed hit piece easily debunkable.” — @An0nAKn0wledge

And yet, the article was never “debunked.” What we have here is just some good ol’ fashioned online harassment about defamation, demanding people “retract” retweeted articles, and lawfare. Sound familiar?

To illustrate just how ridiculous the situation had become and possibly just how widespread the belief is that Dawson’s story isn’t entirely truthful, in the same Twitter thread as Dawson and @An0nAKn0wledge, the Anonymous account @YourAnonNews which has well over 7 million followers tweeted to her, “Have you set up a gofundme to grift on this latest drama yet?”

In the same vein, going back to September 12, 2019, the day that Dawson announced her second temporary asylum application had been accepted, her “campaign team” which includes Taylor Hudak (@_TaylorHudak) and former team member Christy Dopf, released a press statement asking people to donate to Dawson’s legal fees despite the fact that at no time in history has Dawson or anyone else working on her behalf released a single billing statement from an attorney or provided any level of transparency about where the funds are going. Dawson is currently trying to raise $30,000.

Three months later, after the 90-day waiting period had elapsed, Hudak and Dopf made a second announcement that Dawson’s temporary asylum application had been denied AGAIN despite adding more so-called evidence to her application. So now attorneys are allegedly appealing on the grounds that they didn’t take into account her additional evidence that included a few notarized letters which contain zero evidence that Dawson has been politically targeted or harassed. And if Dawson’s storytelling is any indication, the appeal(s) will take another three years for what is normally a one-year process.


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this op-ed or would like to send us further information, you can contact us at TheGatekeeperFiles@protonmail.ch.

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