Internet freedom advocate Jacob Appelbaum recently told Fusion that he believes everyone has the right to privacy.
“I don’t think any surveillance is legitimate,” he told reporter Kashmir Hill. “Everyone should have the right to privacy and know their emails won’t be read, even if they are horrible people, like cops in Ferguson.”
At the same time, however, the “American Wikileaks hacker” said that the Sony executives whose emails were recently released by Wikileaks didn’t deserve this right.
WikiLeaks published a database of 30,287 documents and 173,132 emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment that were obtained through a hack pinned to North Korea. Appelbaum insisted that the release was completely justified.
“Those racist f*cks?” he asks when Fusion reporter Kashmir Hill mentions the emails sent between Sony chief Amy Pascal and director Scott Rudin, in which the two joked about President Obama’s preference for movies starring black actors. “They are people who were negligent.”
The contradiction highlights how Appelbaum — who says he knew long ago that his “great contribution to the world” would be revealing the truths about government surveillance — seems to be deciding who does and doesn’t deserve to be exposed based on the content of their private email correspondences.
Appelbaum met Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange in 2006 at a meeting of the Berlin-based hacker association Computer Chaos Club, according to Fusion. He also helped journalist Laura Poitras vet Edward Snowden and is one of the developers of the anonymous browser Tor.
Fusion interviewed Appelbaum in Beijing, and the cryptographer defended Chinese domestic surveillance practices.
“It [China] doesn’t feel like an oppressive surveillance state,” Appelbaum, who was pictured wearing a shirt that said “F— the NSA,” told Fusion. “China has been demonized by the West.”
Appelbaum’s praise of the authoritarian regime also seems to contradict his dedication to privacy and civil liberties. By all credible accounts, China is one of the most overtly restrictive countries on earth when it comes to the free flow of information.
We reached out to Appelbaum about his Sony comments and will update the post if he responds.