Sean Penn and Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner said the actor/director and the magazine took a number of security measures—including the use of “burner”phones and encryption to communicate and set up an interview with fugitive drug lord Joaquin Guzmán, a.k.a. El Chapo, who was captured just three months after the interview took place in Mexico.
“I was worried that I did not want to provide the details that would be responsible for his capture,” the New York Times quoted Wenner as saying. “We were very conscientious on our end and on Sean’s end, keeping it quiet, using a separate protected part of our server for emails.”
He met in October with Guzman, who had been on the run since escaping from a Mexican maximum security prison last year.
In the resulting article about the experience that appeared in Rolling Stone just a day after El Chapo’s capture, Penn, who referred to himself “the single most technologically illiterate man left standing,” said many of the communications were made through BBM (Blackberry messages) and that operatives on the drug kingpin’s team used encrypted phones. Penn also referred to a shared email account where communiqués are left in the form of message drafts.
While Blackberry does offer an end-to-end encryption service, it’s not bulletproof. Forensic investigators in the Netherlands recently said they can read encrypted messages sent on the devices,