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April 2024



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Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email provider Lavabit, details why he was forced to shut down his company last summer after the U.S. government attempted to seize Edward Snowden’s email information and much more. The FBI was targeting Snowden after he exposed the National Security Agency’s surveillance to the world, but in doing so effectively wanted access to the accounts of 400,000 other Lavabit customers. Levison was barred from discussing the case in detail at the time, saying only that he had refused “to become complicit in crimes against the American people.” Earlier this week, a federal judge unsealed key parts of the record detailing the government’s requests from Lavabit, freeing Levison to talk more openly about what happened. “The government was telling bold-faced lies,” Levison says. “It was impossible to trust them with the access they wanted. The only option was to shut down or to become complicit in what they were seeking — the mass surveillance of my customers.”

His recent article in the Guardian is here and a Democracy Now interview with Levison begins at 12:54.

If my experience serves any purpose, it is to illustrate what most already know: courts must not be allowed to consider matters of great importance under the shroud of secrecy, lest we find ourselves summarily deprived of meaningful due process. If we allow our government to continue operating in secret, it is only a matter of time before you or a loved one find yourself in a position like I did – standing in a secret courtroom, alone, and without any of the meaningful protections that were always supposed to be the people’s defense against an abuse of the state’s power.

In truth, the US Government has hidden abuses under the guise of “National Security” since 1947, and perhaps Levison should compare notes with Susan Lindauer, who was treated exactly as he describes under the Patriot Act right after its introduction to stop her from telling what she knew about 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. Who knows how many others there are we don’t know about?

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