Compliance Management, Privacy

Jacob Appelbaum steps down from Tor Project after sexual misconduct claims intensify

Jacob Appelbaum, a collaborator with Wikileaks and an outspoken activist for a secure internet widely revered by the hacker community, resigned as a developer and activist at The Tor Project Saturday amid allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Appelbaum, who now resides in Berlin after his own privacy was compromised following the U.S. Justice Department's push to obtain his email records from Google while investigating his work as a WikiLeaks volunteer, struck back immediately, calling the rumors “a calculated and targeted attack” aimed at undermining his work. “I want to be clear: the accusations of criminal sexual misconduct against me are entirely false,” he said in a statement.

The accusations, which, according to a statement by The Tor Project Executive Director Shari Steele, have been floating around “for some time” recently turned “more serious and concrete” and after the organization spoke with some of the complainants, Appelbaum stepped down. While Steele noted that The Tor Project is “not an investigatory body,” on the advice of “a legal firm that specializes in employment issues including sexual misconduct,” it will investigate “specific allegations where that is possible.”

Steele urged anyone with information to contact her and encouraged those “who believe they may have been victims of criminal behavior” to report it to law enforcement.

Appelbaum said he is no stranger to accusations, attacks and even death threats, pointing to the Twitter handle TimeToDieJake, but said “these unsubstantiated and unfounded attacks have become so aggressive” he needed “to set the record straight” and is “prepared to use legal channels”  to defend his reputation against what he reiterated are “libelous accusations.”

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