On Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange

The power couple of open source cryptography are some of the Wikileaks rapist Jacob Appelbaum's most important long-term boosters and sponsors.

On Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange
Photo of Daniel J. Bernstein and Tanja Lange presenting their talk at the 2018 31c3 event. Source

The power couple of open source cryptography are some of Jacob Appelbaum's most important long-term boosters and sponsors. Critically, these two tenured professors at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands enabled Appelbaum to continue to qualify for European residency, allowing him to get a full time academic placement at their university after Appelbaum lost his income from Tor. They personally assisted him to qualify for the program; supervised him during his work at Eindhoven; and advised him long enough for him to finish his dissertation. Dan J. Bernstein, known as D.J.B. in cryptography circles, is an influential mathematician whose contributions to the field are so pervasive they have been compared to a "crypto monoculture". Tanja Lange is a chair in the mathematics and computer science department, and was Appelbaum's thesis supervisor. The year she hired Jacob part-time to begin his PhD, Lange recieved millions in funding from the European Union to lead research into encryption that can withstand attacks from post-quantum computers. All mentions of Jacob Appelbaum are routinely removed from D.J.B.'s Wikipedia page, and from Tanja Lange's.

The first public statements from D.J.B about Appelbaum was published June 7, 2016 on his personal blog:

The death of due process

A few notes on technology-fueled normalization of lynch mobs targeting both the accuser and the accused. #ethics #crime #punishment.

Suppose someone is accused of rape, or some other horrifying crime. If the accusation is true then the perpetrator should go to jail. If the accusation is false then the source of this false accusation should pay for this slander. Clearly someone has broken the law.

A lynch mob forms to punish the alleged rapist by whatever means possible. A second lynch mob forms to punish the accuser, the alleged slanderer, again by whatever means possible. These mobs are full of angry people who want to be judges and juries and executioners. The members of the first lynch mob dismiss the possibility that the accusation is false. The members of the second lynch mob dismiss the possibility that the accusation is true.

Evidently many of these people are wrong: accidentally or maliciously deceived. At the same time all of these people are convinced that they know who deserves punishment.

Is it really so hard to recognize both of these directions of error? If I prejudge and punish alleged culprits who have not had their day in court, then I will inevitably punish some innocent people: the unfortunate reality is that many accusations of crimes are false. If I prejudge and punish accusers who have not had their day in court, then I will inevitably punish some innocent people: the unfortunate reality is that many accusations of crimes are true.

When I say "day in court", what I really mean is due process. Due process is a set of ethical principles that civilization has painstakingly developed over several centuries, recognizing that punishment is corrupted by many sources of error on both sides: communication is poor; memories are faulty; sometimes people don't tell the whole truth; sometimes people tell something other than the truth. I won't try to summarize all of the principles of due process, but here are some of the most fundamental, well-established principles:

  • The accused receives adequate notice of the allegations.
  • The accused has an adequate opportunity to respond.
  • Judgments are made by an unbiased tribunal.

These principles are followed by criminal courts (where, as an extra protection, defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty); by civil courts (where the winner is whichever side has the strongest overall evidence); by arbitrators; etc.

I'm not saying that judges never make mistakes. I'm saying that the lynch mobs rushing to judgment are much more likely to make mistakes, exactly because of the absence of due process.

Have you ever heard one side of a story, thought you understood what was going on, and then, after hearing the other side of the story, realized that you were wrong? Have you ever read news about liars being convincingly exposed in court as their lawyers watched in despair, shoulders slumped? You're seeing examples of the power of due process to correct errors. Again, I'm not saying that these systems are perfect; I'm saying that the alternatives are much worse.

Is any of this new? Is any of it hard to understand? I don't think so. Why, then, do these lynch mobs form like clockwork?

Imagine the least trustworthy person you can think of. Maybe it's a modern-day J. Edgar Hoover, or maybe it's some money-grubbing corporate type, or maybe it's one of the candidates for the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Imagine that this person, for whatever reason, wants to destroy someone's life. Look at how attractive these lynch mobs are as weapons! The first lynch mob is a weapon to destroy the life of the accused. The second lynch mob is a weapon to destroy the life of the accuser. These weapons can be used by anyone with a moderate level of marketing skill, and cost almost nothing in the Internet age.

Is it clear that this is never happening: that these weapons are never being used maliciously against innocent victims? I don't find it at all clear. Sure, the courts can be used as weapons too, but at least the courts have some protections against abuse.

Perhaps there's never any malice. The error rate of the lynch mobs is nevertheless terribly high: so high that the existence of these mobs cannot, must not, be tolerated by society.

Now suppose an accuser or accused claims to be the victim of a crime or slander respectively—but, instead of calling for a prosecution or a civil case or at least an arbitration, calls for a lynch mob. The costs are low, the expected damage is high, and the pesky concept of due process is neatly dodged. Is this behavior any less antisocial than the behavior of the angry people who heed the call?

Perhaps you feel, intellectually, that you understand all this, and that you detest the lynch mobs on both sides. But then a new event occurs and suddenly you're faced with angry people trying to browbeat you into joining their lynch mob, screaming either "HOW CAN YOU CONDONE THIS CRIME!" or "HOW CAN YOU CONDONE THIS SLANDER!" depending on which side they're on.

It's really not that hard to stay calm and say something like this: "We weren't there. At this point we can't be sure what happened. Sometimes accusations are true, and sometimes they aren't. It's important for a neutral judge to hear testimony from the accuser and from the accused."

But not everyone stays calm. Angry people continue to join these mobs. They blog and tweet and report their ill-informed speculations in favor of the accuser or the accused, confident in their own righteousness and blithely unaware of the possibility of being wrong. Ultimately the accused and the accuser are both punished, truth be damned.

Tweet in which D.J.B. diminishes and misgenders isis lovecruft (they/them), who published their story as Forest on the original Jacob Appelbaum documentation site

On March 16, 2017, ten months after D.J.B. authored his vague blogpost about the allegations, a colleague from Eindhoven published a new allegation about being a victim of Jacob Appelbaum's interpersonal violence and bullying. When he authored his account of attempting to blow the whistle at Eindhoven, Henry De Valence, was the romantic partner of isis agora lovecruft, a fellow cryptographer who was publicly alleging they had been raped by Jacob Appelbaum. Isis wrote about theirs and Harry's experiences with Jake pseudonymously in April 2016, saying: "From the very first Tor developer meeting I had attended, he repetitively propositioned my partner and I for sex."

Henry's account of Jacob's first year at Eindhoven was supplemented by a leak of emails from senders including Henry and D.J.B.. After the new allegations from Henry were published, D.J.B. wrote a long and rambling rebuttal, published as a .txt file on the website of his Cryptographic Implementations study group, an academic effort "to cryptographically protect every Internet packet against espionage, corruption, and sabotage," which Appelbaum joined in 2015.

Former Tor employee discusses likely reasons Appelbaum was offered the position at Eindhoven in a deleted thread

In his rebuttal, D.J.B. discloses that Jacob was staying at his and Tanja's house with Roger Dingledine, the co-founder of Tor, when Tor was negotiating Jacob's resignation. Dingledine has not made a public statement about Appelbaum, and is most likely the "founder of a tech NGO" referenced in this thread.

Tanja published her response to Henry de Valence's allegations, in a Tweet:

The responses from Lanje and Bernstein were critized by other cryptography academics.

Tweet from March 23, 2017 by Johns Hopkins cryptography instructor Matthew Green.

Bernstein's second statement in full:

D.J.B.'s response to Henry De Valence allegations

Published on eindhoven.cr.yp.to

Henry ("Harry") de Valence, a former Ph.D. student at Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e), posted a remarkable collection of misinformation last Thursday. I'm Daniel J. Bernstein, a professor at TU/e who served as one of Mr. de Valence's supervisors. I'm writing this document to set the record straight.

My most important role in these events is as the manager of TU/e's Cryptographic Implementations group, and in particular of another student, Jacob Appelbaum. Mr. de Valence was in another group, TU/e's Coding Theory and Cryptology group, managed by Prof. Tanja Lange.

Mr. de Valence falsely claims that in mid-2016 he told me that he felt he "had no option but to resign, due to sexual harassment, blackmail, and physical abuse" by Mr. Appelbaum. This claim is, in both words and content, wildly exaggerating what Mr. de Valence actually told me at that time.

I don't mean to say that what Mr. de Valence told me was content-free. Most importantly, (1) he indicated severe discomfort being around Mr. Appelbaum as a result of stories that he had heard (and obviously believed) from some non-students regarding Mr. Appelbaum's behavior towards them; and (2) he reported a firsthand eye-drop story that sounded much less severe than what he now claims (see below) but that was obviously bothering him.

The right way forward was for Mr. de Valence to send me a self-contained written complaint. But Mr. de Valence never did this, even after I sent him email on 16 June 2016 very clearly advising him to do so.

If Mr. de Valence believed that he was a victim of blackmail, sexual assault, battery, or any other crime, then why didn't he go to the police? If he believed he was a victim of sexual harassment or any other serious misbehavior by any of my employees, then why didn't he file a complaint with me? Regarding what he _actually_ told me, why was he so resistant to putting that into writing to me when I advised him to?

Mr. de Valence seems to indicate that, a few months later, he sent some sort of complaint to other people in the department. He never sent me the complaint, and I still haven't seen a copy; I don't know how similar it was to what he now posts. I'm told that Mr. de Valence was repeatedly advised to file a formal complaint with the appropriate university complaints committee. It seems that he never did this. Why not?

On occasion Mr. de Valence seems to be attempting to answer these basic questions, but his answers don't make any sense. Even if he actually _had_ some legitimate reason for refusing to follow the recommended complaint procedures, the simple fact is that he _didn't_ follow those procedures. This fact is quite contrary to his picture of complaints being ignored. He also says much more that simply isn't true.

Mr. de Valence writes:

On August 31, 2015, I started a Ph.D. in cryptography at TU Eindhoven, working with Tanja Lange and Dan Bernstein. On December 2, 2016, I resigned, due to sexual harassment, bullying, blackmail, and physical harm

Mr. de Valence also sent a message to twenty people last month claiming "In fact, I told both Dan and Tanja in June that I felt I had no option but to resign, due to sexual harassment, blackmail, and physical abuse by another of their students." See above.

as a result of their favorite student, Jacob Appelbaum

Huh? Isn't there overwhelming evidence that Mr. de Valence was our favorite student? Let's look at just a few examples of the facts that immediately come to mind and that could be dredged up by someone who wants to write a "Henry de Valence: Dan and Tanja's favorite student" book.

Our home has some space for guests, and part of this guest space was Mr. de Valence's home for an extended period, including a week when we weren't there and many times we were there. We treated him to meals many times. I loaned Mr. de Valence my walking stick (a nicely engineered, hard-to-replace item that we had found during a visit to Taiwan) after he hurt his knee on a mountain trip; when he carelessly damaged the stick, I didn't ask him to replace it, or even to pay for the replacement that we eventually found. We spent a tremendous amount of time, both at home and at work, trying to help Mr. de Valence with his non-work problems; for example, trying to console him when he revealed a private issue in his consensual sex life and indicated how disturbed he was about it. As for work per se, Mr. de Valence was offered and accepted a special Ph.D. position with a package of perks that very few Ph.D. students obtain. I devoted extensive time to finding research tasks at the right level for Mr. de Valence and guiding him through those tasks. I insisted on keeping his name as coauthor on a paper even after his scientific misbehavior provided almost overwhelming justification for kicking him off. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The reality is that we try very hard to provide a welcoming, supportive environment for _each_ of our students, and to launch _each_ of them into a successful career. I'm sorry that this didn't work in Mr. de Valence's case, and I wish I had more insight into the reasons for his puzzling behavior.

as well as Tanja and Dan's total abdication of their responsibility to manage the workplace environment in their research group.

I don't think I need to respond to claims by Mr. de Valence that are at such a remarkable distance from amply documented reality.

This is the story of why I felt no option but to leave, and why I feel that I have no option now but to speak about what happened.

I can believe that this is an accurate statement of how Mr. de Valence feels. But then why didn't he send me a written complaint when I advised him to?

I first heard of Jacob's inappropriate behaviour in December of 2015, while in Berlin after the CCC. A close friend contacted me, telling that Jacob had grabbed her, that he had told her to "just go with it" when she told him to stop, that he had repeatedly violated her boundaries, and that she wanted me to help watch out that he did not have an opportunity to violate them further.

The word "violated" sounds serious. "Grabbed her" and "repeatedly violated her boundaries" might even be accusations of sexual assault, depending on various details that are not stated here. If Mr. Appelbaum committed a crime then he should go to jail.

I understand that Mr. de Valence feels convinced by whatever details he heard, and does not feel the need for any additional verification before he acts upon the accusations. Similar comments apply to various other accusations that Mr. de Valence repeats regarding Mr. Appelbaum. To be clear: If I don't quote an accusation, does this mean that I'm saying that the accusation isn't important to Mr. de Valence, or important for its own sake? Certainly not.

I had observed numerous red flags from Jacob over the preceding four months, including an incident at the September 2015 Tor meeting

During those four months I observed Mr. de Valence frequently laughing and joking with Mr. Appelbaum, seeming to enjoy and actively solicit his company, and sharing intimate personal information with him. They even seemed to be actively investigating shared long-term two-or-three-person housing options together.

By retroactively using the words "red flags", and by being amazingly selective in the information that he reveals, Mr. de Valence leads the reader to imagine a picture of fear and loathing. If Mr. de Valence actually felt this way at the time then he was doing a masterful job of concealing it.

Mr. de Valence does not _explicitly_ state this picture; he merely lets the reader imagine it, and suppresses information that would have made the actual picture clear. There is much more of this type of deception in Mr. de Valence's blog post. (There are also many outright errors, but that's a different issue.)

"rape is not a problem in our community". (Tor's subsequent internal investigation would seem to disagree with his assessment.)

I've heard people expressing radically different understandings of (1) whether the Tor Project concluded that Mr. Appelbaum raped someone and (2) whether the Tor Project followed procedures that give an adequate level of confidence in whatever its conclusions actually were.

Rather than engage in similar speculation on the basis of sketchy public information, I sent email in July 2016 to the Tor Project's Shari Steele
asking for the investigation report:

I gather from https://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-project/2016-July/000521.html that there's an announcement of "the conclusion of the investigation" coming up this week. Would it be possible for me to peek at the investigation report? I'm interested both in procedural questions (for example, if the investigation had enough procedural protections, then perhaps other parties could safely rely on it, rather than initiating their own investigations) and in substantive details. I assume that the confidentiality levels vary between different parts, and of course I'll follow your confidentiality directives in detail.

In response she said she wouldn't be able to share any of the report
with me:

We will be announcing the conclusion of the investigation this week.
Sorry, but the report from the investigation is confidential, and I
won't be able to share any of it with you.

This is very far from answering the obvious questions regarding content
and procedures.

In the fall of 2015, I worked as a TA grading homework for a cryptography course Tanja taught at Eindhoven. In January 2016, after missing the lectures for the course, Jacob returned to the university to write the exam.

First: The lectures were videotaped. There was no presence requirement for any of the students, i.e., no requirement for any of the students to be physically present in class.

Second: Mr. Appelbaum followed an education plan stated in his contract, a plan reviewed and approved at the highest levels of the university. His compliance with this plan was reviewed in detail by an independent committee. His requirements regarding this course did _not_ include any requirement to attend the lectures.

Third: The lectures were given in one quarter. Mr. Appelbaum followed the course in the _next_ quarter. Mr. de Valence comments repeatedly on timing without mentioning this obviously relevant point.

After he wrote the exam, Tanja asked me to grade Jacob's homeworks, informing me that his homework grade "really did matter"

As a general note, Mr. de Valence's accusations regarding Prof. Lange are wildly inconsistent with things I heard much earlier from Prof. Lange. Obviously Prof. Lange can speak for herself. If I skip past one of these accusations, it's not that I'm endorsing the accusation; it's that I'm focusing on the parts of Mr. de Valence's story that I know _firsthand_ to be false.

From various discussions that I witnessed _before_ the exam, it was completely clear that Mr. de Valence had already been asked to grade, and had agreed to grade, the homework. What Mr. de Valence says about timing is therefore fundamentally wrong.

The fact that Mr. de Valence had agreed to grade the homework brings me to a very important issue.

If I believe what Mr. de Valence writes in his blog post now, then Mr. de Valence was deeply angry with Mr. Appelbaum. Furthermore, he knew this starting in December 2015, _before_ he graded the homework. Mr. de Valence was obliged to disclose the existence of a conflict, and recuse himself from grading. But he instead hid this information.

Why did Mr. de Valence hide this information? Why did he not recuse himself from grading? This would appear to be severe academic misconduct by Mr. de Valence. Perhaps there's something that Mr. de Valence can say to defend himself, but I can't figure out what this might be.

and allowed Jacob to tell me in her presence that I needed to grade his homeworks favourably.

This doesn't match any of the discussions that I witnessed. What exactly does Mr. de Valence claim that Mr. Appelbaum said, and when exactly does he claim that this happened? What exactly does Mr. de Valence claim he said in response? What exactly does he mean by "allowed"? If Mr. de Valence thought he was being pressured, why didn't he immediately file a complaint?

Of course, all of the other students in the class were required to submit their assignments on time

Different quarter. See above.

to be graded together according to a standard rubric.

Clarification question for Mr. de Valence: Are you claiming that, under pressure, you did _not_ follow the standard rubric in grading Mr. Appelbaum's homework? Or are you claiming that there was pressure but you resisted it?

There is a committee at TU/e charged by law with ensuring proper grading, and I have recently learned that claims by Mr. de Valence related to this topic have been formally investigated and rejected by that committee. Now that Mr. de Valence has issued public accusations, it would seem that a public resolution will be necessary, starting with Mr. de Valence making clear what exactly his accusations are.

This incident is an example of how, for Tanja and Dan, rules and process are for other people, not for Jacob. Jacob is exceptional. He was not required to complete the homework for his required courses on time.

All of this is false. See above.

He was given special treatment with respect to grading.

The details of this claim are not supported by, and are partly contradicted by, the firsthand information available to me. See above.

He was invited to give talks with little-to-no content, which would be rejected if they were given by anyone else.

Mr. Appelbaum gave two nice talks at Security in Times of Surveillance, a general-audience ethics-and-technology event that in three years has drawn a total of approximately 1000 people. See his videos online:


These talks were invited by a several-faculty-member organizing committee. The talks were in April 2014 and May 2015, before Mr. Appelbaum joined TU/e.

I can think of three talks that Mr. Appelbaum gave at our invitation during his student time. One was a talk at another cross-disciplinary workshop, Post-Snowden Cryptography:


The other two were two talks in a row for a class at TU/e. He was also invited for a followup Security in Times of Surveillance talk but cancelled because of illness.

I'm puzzled by Mr. de Valence's "little-to-no content" claim regarding these talks. Surely Mr. de Valence does not think he would have been able to give talks communicating the same information to the audience. Presumably Mr. de Valence is actually trying to say that he doesn't _like_ this content. Of course he's entitled to his opinion, but there's ample evidence of quite positive audience feedback for Mr. Appelbaum's talks.

I also can't figure out what Mr. de Valence thinks he means when he says that Mr. Appelbaum was invited to give talks that "would be rejected if they were given by anyone else." Part of the communication problem is that Mr. de Valence seems to be mixing up two different processes here:

(1) People are _invited_ to give talks.
(2) People submit _proposals_ of talks, and the proposals are either
accepted or rejected.

All of the talks mentioned above followed the first process.

He was not expected to regularly show up for work or for his courses (from mid-January to August, I saw him at the university once, when he appeared for the group outing of the Discrete Math section).

1. If Mr. de Valence didn't see Mr. Appelbaum at the university, is this because Mr. Appelbaum wasn't there, or because Mr. de Valence wasn't there?

Something Mr. de Valence neglects to mention is that _Mr. de Valence_ was paid for many hours where he wasn't actually at the office. This fact undermines both (1) Mr. de Valence's statistical argument and (2) Mr. de Valence's favoritism argument.

2. More importantly, we are very open _for everyone_ in allowing flexible work schedules, telecommuting, travel, etc. Mr. de Valence was certainly aware of this, frequently took advantage of it, and now fails to mention it.

Of course there are advantages to in-person meetings, and sometimes there are specific requirements to show up. For example, I'm told that Mr. de Valence was removed from TAing a course as a direct result of his unannounced failure to show up for an exam that he was required to proctor.

3. Mr. Appelbaum has never been a full-time TU/e employee. In particular, he was hired for, and paid for, only 50% time during his first year, with the understanding that he would be continuing to travel for his continuing Tor work. See above regarding courses.

4. For part of the period of time mentioned by Mr. de Valence, we were trying to keep Mr. de Valence and Mr. Appelbaum separated from each other. One of the reasons is that Mr. de Valence had requested this.

In February, while the group was planning travel to Japan for the PQCrypto conference, Tanja asked me to share an AirBNB with Jacob. Though I was not comfortable having to spend time with Jacob, I did not feel comfortable declining, since the rest of the group's accommodations were already booked.

Once again: if I believe what Mr. de Valence now writes, then Mr. de Valence knew starting in December 2015 that he was deeply angry with Mr. Appelbaum. But in February 2016 he was still concealing this information from me, and I'm told also from Prof. Lange, and I'm told also from Mr. Appelbaum. Mr. de Valence did _not_ reveal that he was uncomfortable sharing a room with Mr. Appelbaum.

This is puzzling behavior. Again, why was Mr. de Valence hiding this?

Jacob came upstairs with a bottle of irritant eye drops, supposedly containing menthol, and pushed me to let him put them in my eyes. I said no, three times, before deciding that, because Jacob thrives on provoking negative reactions from others, it would be best to "go along to get along" until I would no longer have to deal with him.

This is similar to a story that Mr. de Valence told me in mid-2016, but one of the differences is quite striking. In the mid-2016 version of what Mr. de Valence said, Mr. Appelbaum

first put the same eye drops into _his own_ eyes, and then convinced Mr. de Valence to take the same eye drops.

As a more minor point, from the story that Mr. de Valence told me in mid-2016, I thought that Mr. de Valence had taken the eye drops himself (i.e., V agreeing to V putting the eye drops into V's eyes, rather than V agreeing to A putting the eye drops into V's eyes). This could have been miscommunication, but Mr. Appelbaum taking the eye drops first was a completely clear element of Mr. de Valence's story. More broadly, Mr. de Valence's mid-2016 story sounded vastly less nefarious and terrifying than the story he now puts online.

I thought that Mr. de Valence had taken the eye drops himself (i.e., V agreeing to V putting the eye drops into V's eyes, rather than V agreeing to A putting the eye drops into V's eyes). This could have been miscommunication

Why does Mr. de Valence now omit from his story the point about Mr. Appelbaum taking the eye drops first? And why did he wait months after February before telling me that something had happened?

I was expecting that, as a result of my advising Mr. de Valence to send me a written complaint, he would put his version of this story into writing, and then I could ask Mr. Appelbaum for _his_ version, and then we would resolve any discrepancies, and then see what further action was warranted—calling in outside assistance if necessary. Someone reading Mr. de Valence's current stories might think that outside assistance was clearly necessary, but, again, what he said back then was different.

I suppose it's progress that Mr. de Valence has now put some version of his story into writing where I can see it. Why did this take Mr. de Valence nine months to accomplish after I advised him to do so? Why did it take him more than a year after the actual events?

I've asked Mr. Appelbaum about the eye drops. He disputes Mr. de Valence's "irritant eye drops" description; he says that they were non-prescription Japanese eye drops to _relieve_ irritation. Of course even the most innocent chemicals can have different effects on different people, and clearly Mr. de Valence is unhappy with how his eye felt, and if Mr. de Valence _had_ filed a complaint with me then this information about the eye drops would have been only the first step in understanding what happened and what actions were warranted.

If Mr. de Valence were to _now_ file a complaint with me regarding the eye drops, I would recuse myself and recommend that he file a complaint with the appropriate university complaints committee for investigation. It's not that I consider myself incapable of investigating; it's that there seems to be a significant risk that Mr. de Valence will engage in ad-hominem attacks in an attempt to discredit any negative conclusions.

My right eye, into which Jacob placed an irritant eye drop, has never really felt the same since then; for months afterward it was continually slightly irritated, often watering, and I would get headaches localized to my right temple.

This sounds serious—so why did Mr. de Valence wait additional months
before coming to me, and why didn't he follow my advice to send me a
written complaint? His behavior is baffling.

[ quite a few months after the eye drop: ]

I spoke to Dan for nearly two hours, describing Jacob's behaviour. Specifically, I told Dan that I was contacted by a close friend whose boundaries Jacob violated, about Jacob's conduct in the AirBNB, including that he made threatening statements, about the damage he caused to my eye, that he had repeatedly behaved inappropriately to me, and that he had threatened retaliation against my partner.

Mr. de Valence is using a highly deceptive rhetorical device here. I never saw him do anything like this in person; in particular, what he actually said in this particular conversation was quite different from what this description makes the reader believe.

Let me give an example to explain what the rhetorical device is. Is Mr. de Valence claiming that he told me that he was sexually harassed?

Mr. de Valence did indicate that he felt severe discomfort being around Mr. Appelbaum as a result of stories that he had heard from other people regarding Mr. Appelbaum's behavior. But this doesn't answer the question I'm asking. The question is specifically whether Mr. de Valence is claiming that he told me that Mr. Appelbaum sexually harassed _him_.

Mr. de Valence writes that he had told me that Mr. Appelbaum "had repeatedly behaved inappropriately to me". Given the context, many readers would leap to the conclusion that the reported behavior towards Mr. de Valence was sexual harassment—maybe even sexual assault.

But that's flatly wrong. Mr. de Valence did _not_ report to me that he had been sexually harassed. The impression that he creates in the mind of many readers is divorced from reality.

In response to my pointing out this deception, Mr. de Valence can say "I never said that I reported being sexually harassed—I simply said Jake was behaving inappropriately to me", evading responsibility for the deception created by his own choice of words. This deniable type of deception arises from

(1) the wide range of meanings of "inappropriately",
(2) a reader mindset created by the context, and
(3) a failure to add details that provide clarity.

"Inappropriately" is not the only word that allows this type of abuse. I'm deliberately choosing the word "abuse" here as another illustration: if someone accused Mr. de Valence of engaging in abuse, without giving these clarifying details, then many readers would be deceived, and yet the accuser would have deniability. Students of rhetoric will observe an impressive display of such deception in portions of Mr. de Valence's blog post.

In person, Mr. de Valence didn't use words like "inappropriately", and didn't play such games with the context. He was making vastly more clear statements of fact (or at least what he seemed to believe to be facts). He was describing questions from Mr. Appelbaum and telling me that he didn't want to answer those questions. He was describing stories from Mr. Appelbaum and telling me that he didn't want to hear those stories. He didn't say that Mr. Appelbaum had "behaved inappropriately", and he was describing his own perspective at the end of those conversations as "yeah, whatever" with a dismissive hand wave—quite different from claiming that the conversations were serious problems. I nevertheless told him that if he had clearly told Mr. Appelbaum to stop, and Mr. Appelbaum had persisted, then he should complain to Prof. Lange and me.

Mr. de Valence expressed much more concern with his eye-drop story—a story where he agreed to take eye drops after seeing Mr. Appelbaum take them—and clearly he was troubled by the much more serious accusations that he had heard from other people. Mr. de Valence didn't say that Mr. Appelbaum had "caused" damage to him or subjected him to "physical abuse", but I thought formal followup action was warranted. I advised Mr. de Valence to send me a self-contained written complaint. He didn't. Why not?

Dan's suggestion on hearing that Jacob caused me physical harm

Once again: What Mr. de Valence actually told me was that Mr. Appelbaum
had first put the same eye drops into his own eyes, and then convinced
Mr. de Valence to take the same eye drops.

was to suggest that Jacob and I should have an unspecified "mediation process".

In response to what Mr. de Valence _actually_ told me, I pointed out
various problem-resolution options, including ombudsmen and mediators.
Not long after this, I sent Mr. de Valence email advising him to file a
written complaint with me.

The Tor Project announced the reasons for Jacob's departure during a summer school on cryptography in Croatia. At the same time, an anonymous group posted their stories of Jacob's abuse online.

I'll comment on this simply to point out an interesting difference in

The author name on the page was "Jacob's Rape Victims Collective". I've
checked now, and the author name on the page is still "Jacob's Rape
Victims Collective": <meta name="author" content="Jacob's Rape Victims Collective">

It is not "Jacob's Abuse Victims Collective". The people who spray-painted Mr. Appelbaum's house spray-painted "rapist" and "Vergewaltiger", not "abuser".

Screenshot of a tweet from M.C. McGrath displaying a photo of the side of Jacob Appelbaum's apartment building. Graffiti on the wall reads "A RAPIST LIVES HERE! EIN VERGEWALTIGER WOHNT HIER!"
On June 4, Dan sent an email to the entire research group. Dan informed the group that the only appropriate venue for dealing with Jacob's behaviour is the criminal justice system

Anyone who compares this assertion to what I actually wrote can see that Mr. de Valence is not telling the truth here; not even close.

Many behaviors—for example, how Mr. Appelbaum behaved according to Mr.
de Valence's mid-2016 version of the eye-drop incident—are obviously part of my job to investigate. This is one of the reasons that I repeatedly advised Mr. de Valence to file a written complaint with me (something he never did).

My "crime and punishment" message never said anything to the contrary. The message was very clearly talking about rape accusations, and even an incredibly sloppy reader cannot possibly have missed this. Surely Mr. de Valence cannot be so confused as to imagine that it's my job to investigate rape accusations.

Let me again draw attention to Mr. de Valence's choice of words, in particular the word "behaviour", which has a wide range of meanings, including meanings on opposite sides of the line that Mr. de Valence draws:

  • Someone who reads this word in the context of Mr. de Valence's earlier comment will think "behaviour" means, e.g., the eye-drop incident, and will be deceived into thinking that I said this incident had to be handled by the courts.
  • Someone who compares this word to what I actually wrote will think "behaviour" means rape, and won't see how Mr. de Valence is misrepresenting my message.
  • Someone who reads the context _and_ the word _and_ my message will immediately see that Mr. de Valence is misrepresenting my message. But what fraction of readers will read this much?

I think it's reasonable for me to accuse Mr. de Valence of engaging in deliberate deception here. I try to follow Napoleon's maxim of never attributing to malice what can be well explained by incompetence, but I simply don't see how such patently false characterizations of my message can be explained by incompetence.

and that he felt it would be inappropriate for him to take any action before the outcome of a court case.

No, this again misrepresents my message. See above.

He took the time to emphasize the need to punish "false accusations", which occur "often"

Mr. de Valence doesn't even manage to quote accurately: my message does say "false accusation" at one point but doesn't say "false accusations".

More importantly, here's the actual "often" paragraph from my message:

Often people are falsely accused of crimes. I see it as part of my duty, as a member of a civilized society, to avoid prejudging and punishing people who are accused and who have not had their day in court. On the opposite side, often people are correctly accused of crimes, and I also see it as part of my duty to avoid prejudging and punishing accusers who have not had their day in court.

What, if anything, does Mr. de Valence disagree with here?

(in reality, between 2% and 8% of the time),

Let's assume 2%. Is this not "often"? What exactly does Mr. de Valence think he's disagreeing with?

Some examples might help for clarification. I'm horrified by what Brock Turner did, and what Bilal Skaf did, and what happened at My Lai. At the same time I'm horrified by what was done to Phi Kappa Psi, and to the Scottsboro Boys, and to Iraq. All six of these examples were barbaric.

Mr. de Valence's position is not clearly stated, but _appears_ to be the following:

(1) Mr. de Valence is just fine with what was done to Phi Kappa Psi
and the Scottsboro Boys and Iraq, among many other examples.

(2) His logic starts from the assertion that the underlying
accusations are correct 98% of the time, so the collateral
damage is only 2%, which Mr. de Valence considers acceptable.

If Mr. de Valence _doesn't_ hold this position, perhaps he should clarify what exactly he thinks he's disputing in my message. I'm aware that there are some people who are unable to think rationally about these issues, and who will instead resort to dishonest emotional games, such as falsely accusing me of equating Phi Kappa Psi with Iraq; I don't consider this an adequate reason to avoid commenting on the topic.

and described only two outcomes: a "true" accusation, leading to jail for the accused (in reality, 6 of every 1000 perpetrators are jailed in the United States),

Here Mr. de Valence is disputing something that I didn't actually say.

What my message actually says is "If it's true that Jake raped someone then of course he should go to jail for this heinous crime." Notice that this says "should", whereas Mr. de Valence's false characterization makes it sound as if I had said "will", and then attacks this position.

According to Dan's mail, there is no possibility beyond "punish the accused" or "punish the accuser", or any level of inappropriate conduct below that which is strictly illegal

I have never said anything of the sort, either in this message or anywhere else.

for instance, Dan did not mention the plagiarism alleged in the tweets he referenced in his own email.

Even for a lifelong academic like me who considers plagiarism a major offense, rape is a far more important topic. Why does Mr. de Valence think I should have mentioned plagiarism in a "Subject: crime and punishment" message?

When Dan sent this mail, he had already received reports from multiple people that Jacob's abusive behaviour was not limited to Tor, but also extended into his research group

I think that pointing out Mr. de Valence's usage of the same rhetorical device is an adequate response to this astoundingly deceptive sentence. See above for further comments on the device.

and I suspect that he knew even more, since Jacob was staying at Dan and Tanja's apartment at the time that he was attempting to negotiate his exit from the Tor Project.

Mr. Appelbaum and Roger Dingledine were both visiting. Both of them had obviously heard that there was some sort of accusation against Mr. Appelbaum, but both of them seemed to be completely in the dark about the details. They were each out of the room large parts of the time, apparently on the phone.

My impression from them was that the Tor Project was being threatened with public exposure of the accusation (whatever exactly it was) if Mr. Appelbaum didn't resign from the Tor Project. Mr. Appelbaum and Mr. Dingeldine both obviously cared deeply about the continued success of Tor and didn't want Tor hurt.

I was, and am, puzzled by the date claimed in Ms. Steele's blog post on 2 June 2016: "Jacob Appelbaum stepped down from his position at The Tor Project on May 25, 2016." Unless Mr. Appelbaum and Mr. Dingledine were both playing some sort of elaborate charade, this decision wasn't actually made until a slightly later date. Perhaps Ms. Steele meant "effective" rather than "on", but this isn't what she wrote.

When Dan wrote that dealing with Jacob is a job for the courts, and not for Dan, he did so knowing that Jacob's abuse was not limited to a single person and also affected one of his students.

Again Mr. de Valence's characterization of what I wrote is highly inaccurate.

The underlying problem is that Mr. de Valence is mixing up _criminal_ accusations (which are certainly a job for the courts) with much less severe accusations (such as Mr. de Valence's mid-2016 version of the eye-drop story). Notice again how Mr. de Valence uses the word "abuse" in a way that fails to distinguish these different situations.

Did my message make any broad statements about "dealing with Jacob"—as opposed to statements specifically about the rape accusations? No, it didn't. Of course, if Mr. de Valence were being honest in reporting the scope of my message, then he wouldn't be able to get away with the "one of his students" claim.

Further sloppiness in Mr. de Valence's description is worth pointing out: specifically, the word "knowing". I had _heard accusations_ of rape (specifically the shocking tweet "Jake finally raped enough people that Tor as an organisation couldn't ignore it anymore"), but it's flatly wrong to claim that I _knew_ that there was rape. Mr. de Valence obviously doesn't share my verification standards, but this doesn't justify him misrepresenting my knowledge.

Of course the severe ambiguity of "abuse" will allow Mr. de Valence to respond by sliding to something else that he claims I _did_ know—but I can't think of anything that would justify this part of the sentence, even if I disregard the starting topic (what "Dan wrote"). The eye-drop incident, in Mr. de Valence's mid-2016 version, was clearly not abuse.

I asked Dan to isolate me from Jacob; he wrote that we should all wait, presumably for several years, "for judges and juries to do their jobs" before taking action.

Again Mr. de Valence misleads the reader into thinking that my message was about _all_ alleged aspects of Mr. Appelbaum's behavior—and that the message was in response to an "isolate me" request.

My message said "Subject: crime and punishment". It was completely explicit in addressing _rape accusations_. Here's the actual "waiting" paragraph from the message:

As long as nobody goes to court claiming rape or slander, I would ask that you join me in presuming that the accusations of rape are false, _and_ in presuming that the accusations of slander are false. Assuming that someone _does_ go to court, I would ask that you join me in waiting for judges and juries to do their jobs—no matter how tempting it is to instead join a poorly informed mob on one side or the other. I'm not saying that judges and juries never make mistakes; I'm saying that the alternatives are much worse.

Mr. de Valence says "taking action" without mentioning that my message
was about actions _regarding rape accusations_.

I told Dan that Jacob had blackmailed me and my partner;

No. Mr. de Valence never used the word "blackmail" in his conversation
with me, and never said anything that added up to blackmail—not even

he wrote about the need to punish those who are unsuccessful in raising complaints with the court system.

Again, I don't think I need to respond to claims by Mr. de Valence that
are at such a remarkable distance from amply documented reality.

[ regarding a conversation with Prof. Lange: ]

At this point myself and Isis left in tears, ending the conversation. Dan watched us leave.

This is false. I had left much earlier, and was far out of sight, roughly 100 meters away, not even on the same floor of the building.

I'll comment in more detail for people who have been to the venue. The event reception had a ton of people in a large room downstairs. I saw the conversation starting at a fairly central location in that room during the reception; I was chatting with other people. At some point I left the room, went upstairs, went around the corner, went down the hall to the bar area, took one of two low chairs facing each other, and pulled out my laptop.

Some time later, still sitting in the same chair, I saw Mr. de Valence and his partner appearing. This could have been under a minute after they left the conversation with Prof. Lange, but saying "watched us leave" is still wrong. Specifically, I saw them appearing at a distance, at the end of the hallway leading to the bar area, coming towards me, presumably aiming for their hotel room. Mr. de Valence seemed to be looking in my direction. He then turned slightly to his partner—I thought he was saying something, although they were too far away for me to be sure—and switched to staring in a different direction, while his partner was staring at the floor. I made a snap judgment that they obviously didn't want to be bothered, so I didn't keep watching them; I was typing on my laptop as they came down the hall past me.

The next day, I told Dan I did not see a way to continue at Eindhoven, and avoided contact for the rest of the summer school.

Mr. de Valence neglects to mention my response: basically, that it
wasn't good to make career decisions under stress, and that he should
take a month to think about things.

The following week, I spoke to Dan, telling him that I found Tanja's reaction unacceptable, that I feared retaliation from Jacob, that my conclusion from Tanja's comments was that she would never believe a complaint from me about Jacob's behaviour, and that I felt unsafe at the university.

There's much more that I could say about how our discussion actually
went, but I think I can simply point out that the time in question was
just a few days before I sent Mr. de Valence email recommending that he
send me a self-contained written complaint—which he never did.

The day that Isis published their account, Dan cut off communication with me

This is simply not true.

The only marginal overlap with the truth is that I sent email to Mr. de Valence (dated 16 Jun 2016 15:33:41 -0000) saying "Given these concerns, I've decided that this message will be the end of our strictly confidential conversation." But this was explicitly ending _one_ particular conversation, and here was the very next sentence:

I recommend that you send me a separate message explaining in detail what problems you're facing—without any reference to the previous conversation; again, it's procedurally impossible for me to take action that relies even slightly on any portion of a strictly confidential conversation—and explaining what actions you would like me to take.

Describing this as cutting off communication is absurd. I was very explicitly recommending that Mr. de Valence send me further email.

As a side note, what Mr. de Valence says about timing is also not correct. The blog post from his partner is actually dated three days earlier, and checking Twitter I see a date of "10:21 AM - 15 Jun 2016" on the tweet announcing the blog post.

Dan instructed me to "follow proper procedures", and instructed me to communicate with him only over email

Again Mr. de Valence is sloppy in his handling of quotes. What my message actually said is "I'm sorry if this sounds excessively formal, but following proper procedures avoids errors and provides protection for everyone involved."

"Instructed" is also wrong; the word from my email was "recommend". What I was recommending that Mr. de Valence do, in a nutshell, was send me a written complaint. See above for the exact quote.

More broadly, readers will understand Mr. de Valence's "communicate with him only over email" as referring not just to the _one_ conversation that I was explicitly ending, but to _all_ of our communication. This is another fabrication by Mr. de Valence. I never told him any such thing. We also had in-person discussions after this; an interesting example that leaps to mind is a September 2016 discussion that I'll describe below.

with no reference to any previous conversation,

This was regarding the complaint that I was advising Mr. de Valence to file: the complaint needed to be self-contained, rather than referring to our previous conversation.

There are many obvious reasons for this. For example, _if_ someone is falsely accused, but some components of the accusation are hidden from him, how will he even know how to begin proving his innocence? Maybe the parts he sees will be enough, but maybe not.

effectively helping him to pretend that I had not already been discussing these issues both with him and with Tanja for several weeks.

This is a bizarre assertion.

Mr. de Valence initiated a strictly confidential conversation with me. This placed an obligation on _me_ to protect Mr. de Valence's privacy by avoiding disclosure of the contents, or even the existence, of the conversation. That's also why I wasn't taking notes of the conversation, and wasn't following up with minutes of the conversation; I was simply listening and providing advice to Mr. de Valence. At one point I told him that I might be able to help more if he would _allow me_ to discuss certain things with Prof. Lange. (He didn't, so I didn't.)

After careful consideration I've concluded that Mr. de Valence's public misrepresentations of the conversation have now removed his entitlement to this protection. But the situation back in June was that I was obliged to, and was careful to, protect Mr. de Valence's privacy.

After careful consideration I've concluded that Mr. de Valence's public misrepresentations of the conversation have now removed his entitlement to this protection.

Mr. de Valence sent me a strange email message in mid-August in which, among other things, he incorrectly equated non-disclosure with the "fiction" of non-awareness. Similarly, he now accuses me of wanting to "pretend" that the conversation didn't exist, and claims that this pretense would somehow "help" me, in some completely unclear way.

Dan has written at some length about the importance of "due process", both internally to the research group and externally to the world. But it's telling to notice that in every such discussion, Dan carefully avoided any mention of concrete processes:

False. For example, I very clearly advised Mr. de Valence to send me a self-contained written complaint; that's a concrete process.

he did not define the "different procedures" suddenly required for him to take action, nor what "proper procedures" should be followed.

False. Again, I very clearly advised Mr. de Valence to send me a self-contained written complaint.

He made vague references to "mediation" when I report physical harm,

Mr. de Valence reported that he had willingly taken eye drops after seeing Mr. Appelbaum take the same eye drops. See above.

but never suggested any particular person or office to contact.

False. I recommended that Mr. de Valence file a written complaint _with me_. That's a particular person, and he never asked me for a referral, nor did he say anything to make me think a referral was needed. What Mr. de Valence had actually told me was well within my power to handle—but then for some reason he didn't send me a complaint.

For all his interest in "due process", he never provided any information on the university's processes,

The first step in the process is for the manager—in this case me—to try to resolve things. I very clearly advised Mr. de Valence to file a written complaint with me. Of course—as noted in, for example, in the context of the university's education program—there's actually a step zero that Mr. de Valence seems to have skipped:

"Before taking formal steps it is advisable first to contact the body or person against whom you wish to submit an appeal, objection or complaint. Often it is possible to find a solution without instigating the formal procedures."
nor suggested contacting particular people at the university, such as HR or a confidential advisor

There wasn't any reason for me to mention HR or confidential advisors when I was recommending that Mr. de Valence send me a written complaint. The total number of HR people and confidential advisors at the university is obviously much smaller than the number of professors and other managers, and the workload in resolving problems is spread through all of the managers.

Of course there are some circumstances where HR can be, should be, or must be involved, but nothing in what Mr. de Valence had actually told me was suggesting that such circumstances were present. Procedurally, after seeing a written complaint from Mr. de Valence, I might have decided to contact HR—but he didn't send me a complaint. Why not?

nor referred to the university's guidelines on acceptable conduct.

Again, the first step was for me to see a complaint in writing.

Dan's actions lead me to conclude that this is because Dan's interest in "due process" does not extend so far as proactively carrying any out.

False. For example, I advised Mr. de Valence to send me a self-contained
written complaint, and he failed to do so.

Instead, I believe his interest is in obfuscating to protect Jacob,

I have no idea what Mr. de Valence thinks I was "obfuscating". Why didn't Mr. de Valence send me a self-contained written complaint when I advised him to?

while pretending to have met his responsibilities to address the issue.

What does "the issue" mean here? The eye-drop incident? Mr. de Valence's stated discomfort with being around Mr. Appelbaum? Whatever the issue was, if it was important enough for Mr. de Valence to blog about many months later, why wasn't it important enough for him to send me a written complaint?

asking why I had not followed the "procedures" he had invented.

It is completely standard for a complaint to go first to the alleged culprit, then (if that doesn't resolve the problem) to the supervisor, and so on up the chain. This certainly isn't something I invented. As for putting a self-contained complaint into writing, this also isn't something I invented. The question remains: Why didn't Mr. de Valence send me a self-contained written complaint, as I advised him to do?

I prepared a written complaint and sent it to our department secretary on the 22nd of August

Looking at the email that Mr. de Valence now posts, I see that his target was actually our group's secretary, not "our department secretary". Either way, how did Mr. de Valence imagine that this was the proper direction to send a complaint?

Last month, February 2017, Mr. de Valence sent email to twenty people making reference to an August complaint—I guess this one—and, in an attachment, making reference to a September complaint. Before February 2017, he hid both the contents and the existence of the complaints from me. I still haven't seen a copy of either complaint.

It's interesting to note that Mr. de Valence's document dump includes email to the secretary but doesn't include the complaint that he says he sent.

since I had no idea who the HR contact person was and neither Dan nor Tanja had ever mentioned that information

Mr. de Valence had never asked me for that information.

The "no idea" comment is also puzzling. Mr. de Valence, like other Ph.D. students at TU/e, was an employee; and, as far as I know, every new employee receives an email message from someone clearly identified as HR, and works with HR to complete the initial hiring forms. The HR contact information can also be found on the TU/e web pages.

Is Mr. de Valence quite sure that his objective at this point was to have his complaints actually investigated and addressed?

since HR was not, apparently, to be involved with "proper procedures".

This comment bears no relationship to anything I actually said.

In reply to Dan's query, I asked Dan when, in his capacity as a UIC faculty member, he had last received Title IX training, since I was, and am, surprised by the vast gulf between his idea of standard procedures for handling reports of sexual harassment


Contrary to Mr. de Valence's current insinuations, he never claimed to me that he had been sexually harassed. Regarding claims from other people, I'm confident that the notifications I've carried out (starting on 6 June 2016) have fulfilled my legal and ethical responsibilities. Mr. de Valence is delusional if he thinks he's entitled to see such confidential personnel information about other people.

He did not answer my question

Mr. de Valence was behaving inappropriately by asking such a question.

Notice that I'm giving ample details so that the reader can see the level of inappropriate behavior that I'm talking about. The deceptive rhetorical device discussed above relies not merely on the choice of words, such as "inappropriate", but also on context.

and instead wrote a long email in which he provided further detail on his "procedures"

I advised Mr. de Valence to file a written complaint with me. He didn't.

After I followed up, Mr. de Valence sent a weird response. I then went into detail regarding basic procedural points such as the benefits of putting things into writing. Attributing these procedures to me ("his"), and putting "procedures" in quotes, is strange; these aren't procedures that I invented.

attacked my credibility,

Skimming the message I immediately spot comments on Mr. de Valence's serious inaccuracies, such as the following:

You now summarize this in a highly inaccurate way, claiming that I "cut off communication" with you, while you ignore the fact that I explicitly invited further communication from you.

Many months later Mr. de Valence repeats the same absurdly inaccurate "cut off communication" claim, evidently not understanding what I was telling him, and then accuses me of attacking his credibility.

I did use the word "credibility" in the message: I said that he wasn't following proper procedures, and warned him that "failing to follow proper procedures can call your credibility into question", which he also doesn't seem to have understood.

All of this was in private email solely to Mr. de Valence. Even after Mr. de Valence sent email to twenty people last month quite seriously misrepresenting what we had discussed, I was very careful to limit the contents of my disclosure in response, and didn't say anything about this message. Mr. de Valence has now posted the message, and my best guess is that this will in fact damage his credibility, but that's entirely his own fault.

and mentioned that "procedurally improper behaviour" could lead to termination.

This is (1) yet another misquote, (2) missing the important word "sufficiently", and (3) missing other important context. Here is the correct quote in context:

In the context of a complaint, there would be note-taking, and prompt written confirmation, and no opportunity for anyone to be confused a month and a half later about what had happened. But I presume that your conversation with your supervisor was also strictly confidential, which means that she shouldn't have been taking notes, and then it's clearly inappropriate for you to be coming to me a month and a half later and making strange claims about the contents of the conversation.

I don't know what actually happened in that conversation. I do know that you aren't following proper procedures. Even if you have a legitimate complaint, failing to follow proper procedures can call your credibility into question and prevent the complaint from being processed. Behavior that is sufficiently improper from a procedural perspective can even be grounds for termination.

Let me emphasize what you should do instead. I understand that you have problems with one of my employees. More than two months ago I advised you to send me a self-contained email message that explains the problems in detail and explains what actions you would like me to take. This was, and is, the proper procedure for you to request action from me.

Your latest email message also indicates that you have problems with my reaction to what you've done so far (and also with your supervisor's reaction, but that's something you have to discuss with her). If this is an allusion to the erroneous notion that I've "cut off communication", then I hope my comments above help you get past this error. If you see other problems, then please go ahead and explain them to me; I'll carefully listen, as I've been consistently doing, and see whether we can resolve the problems.

The real question here is why Mr. de Valence kept failing to send me a
self-contained written complaint.

He also emailed me to advise me to work from home, since Jacob would be at the university for a week at the end of August.

Given Mr. de Valence's expressions of discomfort with being around Mr. Appelbaum, I felt compelled to inform Mr. de Valence that Mr. Appelbaum
would be around. Consider, e.g., Mr. de Valence's earlier statement "I asked Dan to isolate me from Jacob".

Meanwhile I knew that _Mr. Appelbaum_ had expressed severe discomfort with being around _Mr. de Valence_, and even with having Mr. de Valence know his physical location; Mr. Appelbaum had also reported receiving death threats. I nevertheless felt that my duty to Mr. de Valence outweighed Mr. Appelbaum's desire for privacy. (_Clearly_ another incident of favoritism.)

On the Monday of that week, I was astounded to hear that Mr. de Valence was spending time in his office. Does Mr. de Valence deny this? I don't recall seeing him firsthand—I was extremely busy with other things—but I clearly recall the secondhand information.

If Mr. de Valence was in fact spending time in his office that week, then how does he explain this behavior, given his earlier statement "I asked Dan to isolate me from Jacob", and given the fact that I had confidentially informed Mr. de Valence that Mr. Appelbaum would be around?

On its way to HR, my complaint was read by another faculty member. In marked contrast to Tanja and Dan's reaction, this person immediately provided me with links to university policies and contact information for the department's "vertrouwenspersoon".

Could it _possibly_ be that this "marked contrast" was a direct result of Mr. de Valence telling different stories to different people?

Or could it _possibly_ be that this was a result of Mr. de Valence actually _putting a complaint into writing_, as I had advised him to do?

Why did Mr. de Valence never send _me_ this complaint?

One of the HR representatives at the meeting then contacted me on the 5th of September to say that the departmental board would take action on my email, and that "they [the DB] are going to plan a meeting with Dan and Tanja in which they will be informed about the complaints you have. Do you agree with this action?". I replied, "Sure. Thanks for letting me know about these developments."

Whichever department personnel we're talking about, they never passed the complaint along to me, and never even told me that Mr. de Valence had filed a complaint. I did hear a vague rumor of some sort of "signals regarding academic integrity", and it's now clear that this must have been alluding to Mr. de Valence, but at the time I wasn't able to find more information.

Why didn't Mr. de Valence simply send me the complaint?

The tone of Mr. de Valence's story seems to suggest that Mr. de Valence was fine with having his August complaint passed along (although the story doesn't exactly say this; being "informed about the complaints" is not the same as seeing the complaints). It's hard to square this with the bottom line, namely that I never actually saw the complaint.

Maybe it's true that the department personnel were massively screwing up in how they reacted to Mr. de Valence's complaint; or perhaps Mr. de Valence is omitting some important part of the actual story.

At the end of September, I left the Netherlands for a week-long project meeting in Belgium, and gave a talk on my work.

Actually, this was a multiple-person _joint project_ led by another student. I invited Mr. de Valence to join after the project was already running for a while—I thought that parts of the project would be at the right level for him. The scope of Mr. de Valence's talk omitted a considerable portion of the project but certainly wasn't narrow enough to justify the phrase "my work".

Standard practice in mathematics and computer science is for results of a joint project to be announced as results from the entire team. Credit of specific results to individuals is generally not disclosed outside the team without team agreement, although of course it shows up when senior scientists are writing confidential recommendation letters.

Mr. de Valence was required by project rules to show up to a closed meeting and give a talk about _something_. My understanding was that he didn't have anything else to talk about. The team agreed that he could talk about this project at this closed meeting. The team had quite a bit of discussion of the talk before it happened.

Meanwhile the only _public_ announcement was one short tweet.

The team hadn't agreed on any other public disclosure, and _had_ very explicitly discussed the standard practice of obtaining consensus within the team before announcing results.

Furthermore, the timing claimed by Mr. de Valence is very far off. My understanding is that Mr. de Valence actually left the Netherlands on Sunday 18 September; the Belgium event started on 19 September. The gap between Mr. de Valence's timeline and reality is important because of related events that Mr. de Valence fails to mention.

The team was aiming for a submission at the beginning of October 2016 to an important conference. On Friday 16 September 2016, two weeks before the deadline, the four TU/e members of the research team—the lead student, the two supervisors, and Mr. de Valence—had another in-person meeting. I was concerned about the state of software tasks that Mr. de Valence had volunteered for, especially since he had travel coming up. I suggested that we split the remaining software work. He said that he didn't want to be a hog "but"—I recall a smile and dramatic pause after the word "but"—wanted to keep going on the whole thing.

Six days before the deadline, Mr. de Valence said on the chat system that he wouldn't get much done that day or the next day because he felt "quite burnt out from last week and travel and some life crises", and that he would check back in the next day. He then fell silent, with the status of his work far from clear.

Three days later, after the lead student finally managed to track him down by smartphone, Mr. de Valence sent one message saying

Hi, sorry if I was unclear, I merged the WIP code I had into master so that other people could work on it, because I am burnt out and can't do both implementation work and the Tor meeting at the same time.

He then fell silent again. It turned out that the software was quite far from a satisfactory state. The rest of the team had to stay up late nights writing code and text to get the submission done on time.

I then spent a week at the Tor meeting in Seattle, took a week of leave in Canada, and visited Waterloo, where I was invited to give essentially the same talk.

"Invited to give essentially the same talk"? Out of the blue? Really? How did they know what the talk contained? It's of course possible that they saw my tweet, which of course included Mr. de Valence in the list of contributors, but that's not the same as knowing what the talk said.

Mr. de Valence didn't tell the rest of the team that he wanted to give a public talk on this paper. I doubt that the team would have agreed if he _had_ asked for permission.

I first heard about the talk from a Waterloo tweet two days before the talk. I sent Mr. de Valence (and the team) email dated 13 Oct 2016 15:25:41 -0000 asking for his slides and, among other things, saying "Announcements should always have approval from all authors", which I think was _extremely_ gentle given how Mr. de Valence was behaving. Mr. de Valence never replied to the email.

I would say this is probably the point at which I lost faith in the university's ability to deal with the situation.

Could it _possibly_ be that the university's "ability to deal with the situation" was affected by Mr. de Valence failing to file a written complaint for me to investigate _and_ failing to file a written complaint for complaints-committee members to investigate?

Let's recap the complaint status at this point in Mr. de Valence's

  • Mr. de Valence has spread various versions of his complaints to so many people that I've lost count, and I suppose to even more that he hasn't bothered to mention.
  • However, Mr. de Valence seems to be avoiding sending his complaints to the people who say they'll actually investigate complaints (me, and of course higher-level complaints-committee members).
  • Mr. de Valence also seems to be avoiding sending copies of his complaints to the people he's complaining about.

This is puzzling behavior, if Mr. de Valence actually believes the
contents of his complaints.

The same day, he sent an email to a Ph.D. student at Waterloo, placing Alfred Menezes in CC, noting that he had previously described my situation to Alfred as "pathetic"

False. Here is what my message actually said:

Do you happen to know whether the slides from the Oct 14 seminar "Efficiently finding short generators in multiquadratic fields" were copied onto a Waterloo laptop that might still have a copy?

I asked Alfred (in cc), mentioning that I'm one of several coauthors, and that the reason that we don't have the slides is a long and pathetic story that I wouldn't bore him with. He said that speakers usually bring their own laptops, but suggested contacting you as the main organizer of the seminar.

In Mr. de Valence's misrepresentation, this was about him: "he had previously described MY SITUATION to Alfred as 'pathetic'" (emphasis added). In the actual message, I wasn't blaming anybody, and most readers would guess that the reason I was sending email is that I had somehow managed to carelessly lose all the team copies of the slides.

This effort to protect Mr. de Valence is, I suppose, yet another item for the "Henry de Valence: Dan and Tanja's favorite student" book.

Careful readers of Mr. de Valence's misrepresentation will also note the same deceptive rhetorical device again, this time starting from the word "situation". Given the context, many readers will envision the description of this "situation" as some sort of broad badmouthing, whereas my actual message talked much more specifically about "the reason that we don't have the slides".

and asked the student to search through any UWaterloo computers for a copy of the slides I'd used there months ago.

"Search through any UWaterloo computers"? Yikes. Call out the forensics

What I actually wrote started with "Do you happen to know" and was obviously referring to whichever particular Waterloo laptop was normally used to present talk slides. This certainly wasn't asking for some sort of broad search.

The mid-term review meeting for the project I was hired to work on took place in January. I was told that Dan reported to the other Ph.D. students that I had called in sick in October and resigned in December, and that if any of the other fellows knew more, he would like to know.

Maybe this is what Mr. de Valence heard—or maybe not. He's making an
interesting change in his story here compared to a previous version.
Here's the previous version:

I was told that at the project review meeting in Leuven, Dan Bernstein informed the other ECRYPT-NET fellows that I called in sick in October and resigned in December, that he had no further information, and that if any of the other fellows knew more, he would like to know.

See the difference? Why does Mr. de Valence now omit the "no further information" part from the new story?

Either way, the story is an oversimplification of what I actually said at the meeting. For example, I said at that meeting that we were continuing to move forward with a joint project that the student had participated in, and that the resulting paper was under submission. I also reported that the student had called in sick in October, that the student had resigned at the beginning of December (I later learned that the resignation letter was dated the end of November), that I had not
seen the sick notice or the resignation letter, that the student had fallen out of contact, that I hoped he was okay, and that if anyone had further information then I would like to know.

This is one of several points that I already made in my response to Mr. de Valence's letter last month. Apparently Mr. de Valence understood the particular point that "no further information" was flatly wrong. His response is fascinating: he revises his claim of what he had heard to omit this point, even though, according to his previous claim, it _is_ part of what he had heard. Somehow Mr. de Valence fails to learn any broader lesson about the possibility of errors in communication.

When I informed the project reviewer and the other fellows that, in fact, I had resigned due to sexual harassment

Actually, Mr. de Valence's subject line was pointing to more things: "Regarding my resignation from the ECRYPT-NET project due to sexual harassment, blackmail, and abuse".

(He also sent the message to four other project people and, for some completely unclear reason, the press people at the department. I must admit to some curiosity as to how he managed to find the press people, if he had so much trouble finding HR.)

If Mr. de Valence actually believed that he was subjected to "abuse" (whatever exactly he means by this), sexual harassment, and blackmail, then why didn't he file complaints with me, with the appropriate university complaints committee, and with the police?

Dan sent a response which opened with a long, irrelevant, and inaccurate story

First, I don't see Mr. de Valence even attempting to justify his claim of inaccuracy. If he thinks there's anything even slightly inaccurate in my message, then of course he should say what this is, so that we can reach agreement regarding the facts.

Second, regarding relevance, the facts shown in my message—especially the sequence of events at the beginning of the message—are radically at odds with the picture painted by Mr. de Valence.

Third, I agree that the story was rather long.

about how my work was low-quality, my research contribution was minor, etc.

My message doesn't say "quality" or "minor", and on a quick skim I don't see anything similar to this. In general the message is quite focused on facts; this is hidden by Mr. de Valence's deceptive paraphrase.

I signed up to do a Ph.D. so that I could do cryptography research, not so that I could spend months trying to blow the whistle in the face of personal and institutional resistance, and I do not intend to waste much more of my life on it.

In June 2016, not long after Mr. de Valence initiated a conversation with me, I sent him email recommending that he send me a message "explaining in detail what problems you're facing" and "explaining what actions you would like me to take."

This was perfectly clear, and is very much the opposite of "resistance". Mr. de Valence, on the other hand, was then astoundingly resistant to putting his complaint into writing to me.

Apparently Mr. de Valence put a version of his story into writing three months later, but didn't show it to anybody who would know—or make an effort to find out—the facts.

Mr. de Valence has now put a version of his story online, _very_ different from what he had told me nine months earlier, and full of further statements that I know firsthand to be false—including statements with such glaring errors that Mr. de Valence _must_ have known beforehand that what he's saying isn't true.

When the errors are stripped away, what we find from Mr. de Valence is a fundamental failure to focus on the facts. He's full of accusatory words and insinuations, and remarkably light on details.

Does this really sound like someone "trying to blow the whistle"?

—D. J. Bernstein

P.S. Here are two comments regarding Mr. de Valence's email dump.

First, Mr. de Valence correctly notes that he didn't send me a copy of his February 2017 email. Why didn't he do this? I received a copy from the project coordinator, and of course I included Mr. de Valence in the cc line of my response.

Second, Mr. de Valence's redactions of names and addresses were quite sloppy, and in particular I consider it rather antisocial of Mr. de Valence to add my non-public TU/e email address¹ to spammer databases. A simple Google search would have shown him that the address was not previously public.


  1. tue@box.cr.yp.to

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