Wikileaks volunteer detainedRob Beschizza
Aug. 01, 2010
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A volunteer for Wikileaks was detained by officials Thursday while entering the country at Newark International Airport.
Jacob Appelbaum, noted for his work with the Tor online security project, was searched and "interrogated" for three hours before being released, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous.
Wikileaks, a clearing house for information submitted by whistleblowers, released a trove of "War Logs" last Sunday relating to the conflict in Afghanistan. Appelbaum delivered a keynote speech at the recent HOPE conference in Wikileaks chief Julian Assange's place, and gave an interview to Boing Boing about the content of the logs.
According to the source, Appelbaum was stopped by customs officials and spoken to for at least three hours by a team that included a U.S. Army investigator. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning was named last week as a possible Wikileaks source in relation to the classified logs.
Appelbaum's interviewers demanded that he decrypt his laptop and other computer equipment, the source said. After his refusal to do so, they confiscated it, including three cellphones. The laptop was returned, apparently because it contained no storage drive that investigators could examine. He was also asked about his role in Wikileaks and informed that he was under surveillance.
The FBI also asked to speak to Appelbaum earlier today in Las Vegas after his talk at the annual DEFCON hacker conference. Mr. Appelbaum, the source said, had an attorney present who declined the request on his behalf.
Appelbaum, reached Saturday afternoon, said he was unable to comment.
Update: CNET also has a story up, with more details of the detainment:
Appelbaum, a U.S. citizen, was taken into a room, frisked, and his bag was searched. Receipts from his bag were photocopied, and his laptop was inspected, the sources said. Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Army then told him he was not under arrest but was being detained, the sources said. The officials asked questions about Wikileaks, asked for his opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and asked where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be found, but Appelbaum declined to comment without a lawyer present, according to the sources. Appelbaum was not permitted to make a phone call, the sources said.