Appelbaum Leaves Tor Project Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The prominent digital rights activist and Tor developer stepped down from his position at the Tor Project after “serious” allegations of sexual misconduct.

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Jun 5 2016, 4:11pm

Jacob Appelbaum in 2014. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Prominent Tor Project developer and privacy activist Jacob Appelbaum stepped down from his position on the Project's board on May 25 after what the Tor Project described as "serious, public allegations of sexual mistreatment."

Appelbaum's departure was quietly announced in a Tor blog post on May 25, but the reasons for his departure were not disclosed at the time. Appelbaum has worked with Tor, a software program which enables anonymous web browsing and communication, in various capacities since 2004.

Appelbaum, whose Twitter profile describes him as an 'ethics activist,' has yet to publicly speak about leaving Tor. The only allusion to his departure is a tweet on May 30 that reads "Changing of the guards."

The reason for Appelbaum's departure came to light on Friday, when the Tor Project issued a statement explaining that "a number of people" have made "serious, public allegations of sexual mistreatment" by Appelbaum.

The post, signed by Tor Project Executive Director Shari Steele, continues: "These types of allegations were not entirely new to everybody at Tor; they were consistent with rumors some of us had been hearing for some time. That said, the most recent allegations are much more serious and concrete than anything we had heard previously."

The number of allegations against Appelbaum and how long the Tor Project has been aware of these rumors about his sexual misconduct is not clear.

According to the Tor Project's statements, after members of the Tor Project spoke with those putting forth the allegations, Appelbaum stepped down from his position at Tor. The statement says the Tor Project is working with a law firm that specializes in employment issues involving sexual misconduct and will continue investigating specific allegations against Appelbaum.

Appelbaum is a leading digital rights activist and hacker. He has previously worked with Wikileaks and revealed that the NSA was spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He was also a co-founder of the renowned Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco.

At the time of this writing, neither the Tor Project nor Appelbaum could be reached for comment. This post will be updated if we hear back.