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30 October 2014

Snowden's Websites - Two Tales

Early in the process of going public with the Snowden documents there were at least two considerations of setting up websites for public information, one by Snowden and Micah Lee,, in May 2013, and another by Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda,, in May 2014. Both websites remain registered but apparently not used to for public information. now redirects to the Micah Lee article cited below: now redirects to:

which tallies Snowden documents release. This latter redirection is not by Cryptome.

Micah Lee
"Ed Snowden Taught Me To Smuggle Secrets Past Incredible Danger. Now I Teach You."
28 October 2014
Near the end of May [2013], I received an anonymous and encrypted email from an account called “verax,” which is Latin for “truth teller.” The writer told me that he was the same person I had been in touch with several months earlier. He had a new request.

Would I help him build a website that would launch a global petition against surveillance?







Snowden and I exchanged encrypted emails to discuss the site mockup and the site’s functionality, and he let me know a bit of what was going on. “Just wanted to provide an update on the work out here,” he emailed me on June 3. “Had an extremely productive meeting with two journalists today you may know, and will encounter a third tomorrow [Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian reporter who joined Greenwald and Poitras at the last moment]. After discussion, may hold off on the declaration for a few more days to give them time to work first.”

He told me his name, so that I could attach his signature to the end of the manifesto. This was about a week before the rest of the world would learn who he was. Using Tor, I searched the internet for Edward Snowden, but I couldn’t find anything. I checked LinkedIn, I checked Facebook, I think I even checked Twitter, and I found nothing. Who was this guy?

I was quite excited, especially after Greenwald’s first story was published on June 5, revealing a secret NSA program to collect massive amounts of domestic phone data. I finally knew what Snowden was leaking.

“Big news today, huh?” I emailed him. “How are you doing?”

He responded quickly.

From: verax@?????????
To: ?????????
Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2013

Oh, that old thing? That could have come from anywhere..

Timing is everything on this, and we aren’t close to finished. It’s encouraging to see prominent civil rights organizations already calling for change, and I’m hopeful that maybe this time, things will be different.

Come Monday, people will have something to be angry about. I think that will be the day. Please feel free to criticize the draft as much as you’d like: it needs to be something people are willing to give words to their own feelings.

The next few days brought a blitz of headline-grabbing stories about NSA surveillance from Greenwald, Poitras, and MacAskill as well as the The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman, who received documents from Snowden even though he hadn’t made the risky trip to Hong Kong. On June 9, there was another thunderbolt: Greenwald, MacAskill, and Poitras broke the news that Edward Snowden was their source, releasing a 12-minute interview with him in which he explained his motivations.

On June 13, after he had parted ways with Greenwald and Poitras and gone underground in Hong Kong, he finally emailed me.
From: verax@?????????
To: ?????????
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2013

I’m still here. As you may have heard, I’m on the run. Tons of surveillance, media, and less savory teams crawling all over this place…

I have a new draft for the site, but I keep revising it. Hold off on any action for now. I’m thinking something major may happen on Saturday and give us a venue to bring this to the fore.

Thank you again for all of your help and support. I’m sorry this has become so dangerous for everyone involved, but I suppose this is precisely what needed to be illustrated about our government. Let’s hope people reign it back in.

We never launched the website.

Glenn Greenwald
No Place to Hide
13 May 2014
Note this registration occurs on the same date as publication of No Place to Hide.