Tor military contractors try to shut down my reporting

A quick note from the road...

It’s just past Christmas here in Germany. After spending a few days relaxing with my wife and a few friends in Berlin, I've taken my leave and headed north to Hamburg to report on 32c3, the annual Chaos Computer Club conference. And I gotta admit, I’m a bit unnerved.

I have never been to 32c3. But from what I’ve heard and seen, it’s supposed to be the Hacktivists’ Davos — an annual extravaganza that attracts the world’s top hackers, hacktivists, script kiddies, libertarians, cypherpunks, techno philosophers, bitcoin entrepreneurs, military contractors, and Internet Freedom warriors of all nationalities, genders, age groups and intel classification levels. It’s a place where they all come together to schmooze and network and have break-out sessions and discuss the most pressing issues facing the Internet. And it features celebrity activists. First Look Media's Laura Poitras made an appearance last year. The year before, First Look Media's Glenn Greenwald gave the keynote address.

I've spent the past couple of years reporting on the Tor Project and the Internet Freedom community’s ties to the US National Security State complex — so it's natural that I'd attend this year's 32c3 event. It's my beat. I’ve been looking forward to going for almost a year — and that is exactly what I intend to do.

But some people have made it their stated goal this year to stop me from doing my job. An influential group of Internet activists at the center of this year's 32c3 event has been making bizarre threats against me, in an attempt to intimidate me into changing my mind and not reporting on what they're up to. For the past week or so, employees of the Tor Project — a military contractor funded by the Pentagon, US State Department and various intelligence agency cutouts — have been waging a social media mob campaign to prevent me from attending. Their aim is to prevent critical independent journalism from covering their insulated (and well-funded) ecosystem. And so over the past week I've been subjected to all sorts of crude bullying, smears, lies and even physical threats. There’s even talk of spiking my drink and covertly drugging me at the event. Lovely stuff, all drawn from the same ol' playbook of dirty tricks.

I'm a refugee from the Soviet Union. A few years ago, the newspaper I worked for in Moscow was shut down by Kremlin agents. So I'm no stranger to intimidation and threats, and I also know that you don't take them lightly, because it takes a twisted mind and a twisted collective to threaten and intimidate a journalist from doing critical reporting. The Tor crowd may not be Kremlin goons — but their project is funded by the deadliest and most powerful military-intelligence apparatus in the world, so yeah, experience tells me I should take it seriously.

Regardless of any of it, they won't stop me from doing my work.

I might write a bit more on this up at Pando. But I'm on the road right now, and I wanted to make my position clear before I head to the event.

I'm off to 32c3. Wish me luck.

—Yasha Levine

PS: Read my latest on the Tor Project, the super secure anonymity network that will definitely keep you safe (as long as hackers don't break the rules).

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