Thirty-three-year-old Jacob Appelbaum, a prominent developer with Tor Project developer and privacy activist, has resigned from his position on the board on May 25, according to reports.
Tor announced his departure through a blog post without giving any reasons.
Appelbaum, who has been working with Tor since 2004, has held various positions in the Tor Project.
Appelbaum has been courting controversies throughout his career with many powerful government agencies around the world on issues such as state secrecy and surveillance.
However, the reason as to why he stepped down from Tor was entirely different.
The cause of his leaving came to light after Tor has issued a statement saying that he resigned following serious, public allegations related to sexual mistreatment made against him by unnamed victims.
Jacob Appelbaum responded to the accusations through a statement issued by him. In the statement, he termed the spurious and vicious allegations as a targeted and calculated attack on him.
He also noted that the allegations of sexual misconduct against him are completely baseless.
Claudia Tomassini, Appelbaum’s publicist, reportedly said that his legal team is planning to file an injunction against factually incorrect and monstrous allegations when contacted by WIRED to elicit Appelbaum’s response.
WIRED reported that the stories given by the victims on a website created by them could not be verified as they had used pseudonyms. WIRED could not determine the identity of the creator of the site as well.
However, developer Andrea Shepard, Appelbaum’s co-worker at Tor, based in Berlin said that the creator of the website is a person whom she knows and trusts and that she has been a Tor community member for a very long time.
Shepard also reportedly said that she had spoken directly with one of the victims who informed her that Appelbaum had raped him/her in February this year.
Shepard also noted that she believes the information to be true as Appelbaum is charismatic and a socially dominant manipulator.
According to Shepard, Tor management was suspicious of Appelbaum’s sexual misconduct for many months and allegations by another victim in the recent times resulted in increased calls to force a resignation from him.
Shari Steele, executive director at Tor, reportedly led the push for his resignation.
Steele signed the statement issued by Tor,and it said that the allegations were not new to Tor and were consistent with the rumors that were doing the rounds for some time.
Additionally, Steele noted that the recent allegations were not only serious but also provided concrete evidence of his sexual misconduct.
Appelbaum, a digital rights activist as well as a hacker, had worked with WikiLeaks in the past and had revealed NSA’s spying activity on Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.
He is also one of the co-founders of the famous Noisebridge hackerspace, San Francisco.
Shepard said that she observed a pattern in his behavior, and she distanced herself from him.
She recalled that Appelbaum told her in 2013, in a bar in the presence of another colleague, by way of a misogynistic phrase that he would have sex with her.
Later in 2014, he aggressively snatched the phone from her hands during a hacker conference.
Shepard also noted that Appelbaum was suspended by Tor Project for two weeks without pay following a harassment incident.
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