Guest post: Hacking in Parallel, Dec. 2022

First-person account of an encounter with Jacob Appelbaum on December 30, 2022, after Hacking in Parallel conference in Berlin

CONTENT WARNING: transphobia, deadnaming, misgendering, Jacob Appelbaum, doxxing


This is my first-person eyewitness account of an encounter with Jacob Appelbaum on December 30, 2022, before and during the afterparty of the Hacking in Parallel '22[0x00] conference in Berlin, which took place from December 27 to December 30, 2022 as part of "decentralized year's ending gathering"[0x01] series of events that were organized in connection to with the cancellation of the annual Chaos Communication Congress due to the pandemic[0x02].

My name is donk, I am a hacktivist known for contributing to the collection of evidence related to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, from the fascist social media site Parler, which was used as evidence in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump[0x03] and leaking documents showing the involvement of western oil conglomerates in financing the military coup of 2021 in Myanmar[0x04]. Distributed Denial of Secrets[0x05] (DDoSecrets) is a transparency collective founded in December 2018 that publishes hacked and leaked materials. I am not affiliated with DDoSecrets, other than being the source of the aforementioned data sets related to Parler and Myanmar, which were published by them in 2021.

I am personally friends with Lorax B. Horne, who is a writer for the collective and is not a member of the submissions committee[0x06]. I am not affiliated with the Tor project, but I have made small financial donations to it and really encourage its use. I don't live in Berlin, I've never lived in Berlin, I enjoy Berlin only in small doses at a time. I've never been associated with WikiLeaks, I used to have some sentimental feelings for it, but now I think it's dead, and what's left of it is a cult. I am a supporter of prison abolition and I believe that no one deserves to be in prison. I am a private person, I do not maintain a public persona.

I was invited to Hacking in Parallel '22 as a speaker on the panel "Hacktivism: Past, Present and Future"[0x07]. I agreed, as it was a small event organized by friends. I wasn't paid for my appearance. I am a transgender person.

This was my first meeting or interaction with Jacob Appelbaum both online and offline. I came with zero expectations, I was genuinely curious about what kind of person he is when he is sincerely engaged with, and I got my answer, which was exactly what I had heard from people before. You can argue that I poked a stick into the beehive and got stung, or that part of the responsibility lies with me for accepting an invitation to meet with Jacob Appelbaum, or that my experience is nothing compared to the experience of his victims, and I agree.

I'm posting this in the hope that anyone who still has any doubts that Jacob Appelbaum is an asshole will change their mind and that we, the hacker community, the community I love, will be able to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again. Again, this is a first-person eyewitness account. If you disagree with any of this, please take offense at me and no one else.


Hacking in Parallel '22 (HiP) was a small hacker event organized in Berlin at the ETI Schauspielschule just above c-base as a smaller alternative to the canceled Chaos Communication Congress. One of the main organizers was Mitch Altman, who, together with Jacob Appelbaum[0x08], co-founded the Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco. Mitch Altman, whom I like and respect for all the work he has done to promote the hacker movement, is friends with Jacob Appelbaum and received acknowledgement in Jacob Appelbaum's recently completed PhD thesis[0x09]. Mitch Altman invited Jacob Appelbaum to HiP, giving him a voucher to buy a ticket. The purchase was flagged in pretix by one of the members of orga, and Jacob Appelbaum's invitation to HiP was rescinded by Mitch and he was told that he's not welcome.

The friend who invited me to the conference disagreed with the decision not to invite Jacob and asked me if I would like to meet with Jacob, because it would give me the opportunity to "make up my own mind" about him and that it could lead to an "interesting conversation". My answer was that whether I would feel safe meeting Jacob would depend on the setting, but sure. The friend proposed to have dinner at a restaurant, and I agreed.

HiP was coming to an end, and the attendees who wanted to stay moved to c-base for the afterparty. I was there with Lief and several developers of Katzenpost mixnet[0x0B] when we were asked to come to a nearby Chinese restaurant[0x0C] to meet with a "special person". I've heard some people complain that they've been explicitly told they can't join.


When we got to the restaurant, there wasn't a big enough table for all of us, I got sat down at a table with Jacob Appelbaum, Lief and Enegnei[0x0D-a] sat next to Jacob, two of my friends from HiP orga, Telekommunisten dude (Dmitry Kleiner) and an older trans woman (Anha Novak?)

I order vegan tofu. Lief asks Jacob for a Wi-Fi hotspot, he offers it to him in exchange for a 5-volt battery bank.[0x0E] Jacob does not interact with me, except for an introduction, he and others are discussing the deployment of a new version of Katzenpost (which now, as I understand it, they are trying to turn into Tor, but worse[0x0F] and with Jacob Appelbaum allowed, to help him whitewash his reputation.)

Anha and the Telekommunisten dude get and finish their food first, so they go back to c-base. The Telekommunisten dude asks if he can drop by Jacob's place and asks where he's at. Jacob answers: "same place, in Mitte, I never moved."[0x10]

I'm finishing my meal when Jacob finally turns to me and says, "Hey, so you're donk, I've heard some things about you, what do you think about Distributed Denial of Secrets and Emma Best[0x10] being part of the CIA?" I tell him I don't know anything about it, could he explain in more detail? He rephrases the question, so I say that I consider DDoSecrets as an archive and a library, what they do well is make the data available and seeding their torrents, and if their sources are smart, don't trust them and protect their identities, it shouldn't matter if they are CIA.

Jacob rephrases the same question in two different ways, now asking if I feel like I collaborated with the CIA by leaking to DDoSecrets, so I tell him the only way I see what he's saying is true is if Emma Best gave people orders and lists of targets to hack, and ask him if he has any evidence of this (he doesn't have any), otherwise it wouldn't be me working for the CIA, it would be the CIA working for me, providing me with the service of an FTP server and torrent client.

Jacob goes on about Yahoo! News story[0x11] about the CIA's attempted assassination of Assange, which mentions a CIA operation launched in 2017 to discredit WikiLeaks, and asks if I think it's a coincidence that DDoSecrets was also launched in 2017[0x12]. I tell him that I don't understand how launching a new website to leak information can contribute to a murder plot. Jacob answers: "But when I asked the journalist who wrote this story if this 2017 operation was actually DDoSecrets, HE JUST DIDN'T ANSWER, COMPLETE SILENCE, do you see???" I say No, I still don't understand what he's trying to say, but it's been a long time since I've read Yahoo! News story, and I'm not sure exactly which parts he was referring to.

Now Jacob launches into another transphobic conspiracy theory, which I have already heard from another nutcase named Barrett Brown[0x13]. "Did you know that Emma Best before Emma Best was known as <Emma's dead name>, and before that there was another name change from a MALE TO A MALE NAME, and that Barrett Brown managed to dig up a court document stating that <Emma's dead name> was the name adopted for the purpose of <misgender Emma> secretly working for the intelligence community? And there's a blog entry on Emma's blog where SHE JOKES ABOUT WORKING FOR THE CIA."[0x14] I say, yes, I did hear about it and filled in the part of the story that he missed, Emma working for Wikistrat, but if he really read Emma's blog[0x15] he would understand that all this was already public knowledge, and Emma was quite open about being disillusioned with wanting to work in counterintelligence and why she decided to do the work she is doing now.

Then Jacob goes on about the recent Bellingcat book, that the subtitle is "The People's Intelligence Agency", how they came up with this phrase for WikiLeaks, and Bellingcat stole it from them, and THEY TAKE MONEY FROM MI6. I'm saying that the difference I see between WikiLeaks and DDoSecrets is that, again, I view DDoSecrets' work not as the work of an intelligence agency, but rather as an archive and library, and if their sources are smart, they shouldn't trust Emma and reveal their identity to her. I also said that what they are doing seems to be effective because right now DDoSecrets torrents are seeded and I tried to view HackingTeam emails today on and it didn't work - it was the moment when Jacob seemed most uncomfortable and taken aback when he realized that I had a source inside WikiLeaks who told me why their website is fucked.

Jacob says, "blah blah blah, they have some technical issues and it will come back, and some DDoSecrets data is only available to pre-vetted, pre-selected lists of elite journalists." My answer is that when they do that, it's either done at the request of the source, or they don't have the resources to redact the personally identifying information from the dataset. "BUT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, IT'S NOT JUST THE IDENTITIES THEY ARE AFTER, IT'S THE SOCIAL GRAPHS and the global all-seeing adversary they already know which circuits the sources are using for communicating with the journalist AND THEY ARE ALREADY BEING CONSTANTLY DEANONYMIZED." At this point, it's been about half an hour since we all finished eating, I pay for my food, everyone wants to go back to c-base, and they also invite Jacob to join them.


I walk back with Jacob[0x16] and he starts spewing even more word salad about deanonymization, social graphs and how his mixnet messaging idea solves all this. I'm really tired of his shit at this point, but if he wants to discuss source protection from a purely technical point of view and not transphobic conspiracy theories, I'll entertain it and try to have a genuine, sincere discussion.

I ask Jacob jokingly, just to understand his perspective, if he has ever committed any CFAA violations. My friend later reported that this question made Jacob extremely paranoid that Jacob believed he was being recorded the entire time. No, I just have a very good memory.

I tell Jacob that his whole idea is flawed, because as a leaking organization, you will encounter two types of sources: the hacker who is technically experienced, knows how to protect their identity, but may have an ego, so the main threat to them is HUMINT, and the insider leaker, who may be less technical and not know how to obtain and make a copy of the documents they want to make public, while covering up their tracks from the source organization.

His idea only helps the source hide their identity when sending documents to the journalist, and since the source most likely has already made mistakes in the previous part and created enough evidence by simply obtaining and copying documents to get caught, it's pointless.[0x17]

We're standing outside c-base, people are flipping us off, spitting and throwing mud in our direction. I don't want to go inside because it's too loud. I tell Jacob that he should read the greatest book on how to commit crime and get away with it - TCP/IP Illustrated. He says, "Yeah, dude, whatever, no logs, no crime, don't go to jail," and walks into c-base, where the after party is still taking place. I don't follow him because I want to talk to other people, partly about wtf just happened and other things.

I don't drink alcohol, I didn't touch it during the whole event, including at the after party. Everyone else is drunk and boring, so I decide to go look for Jacob, just to troll him, to make him feel at least a little as uncomfortable as he was making both me and other people with his presence. I felt like a line was crossed by letting him get to c-base that night. What I wanted was that either Jacob or I would be thrown out.


I find Jacob in the members-only c-base area downstairs with Anha, Lief and a bunch of other people, I interrupt the conversation by asking Jacob if he thinks DDoSecrets is the CIA, then why did he hang out with CIA associates in Ecuador for three years (referring to Lorax). Everyone bursts into a tirade that Lorax is a bad person and part of the cabal that made the "false" accusations that got Jacob canceled. Jacob tells me Lorax has made false accusations that he slept with some woman and that it can't be true because he wouldn't even touch her.

I tell him I don't give a shit about his sex life and ask him to look me in the eye. "Jake. I'm a hacker. I am a source. You've built your entire career off the back of people like me. Without us, you would be nothing. I'm going to go ahead and tell everyone to leak things to DDoSecrets, not to you." Jacob replies that he doesn't want me to leak to him and wants me to be safe and not go to jail.

Then he goes back to the story of Emma's name change. I call him out every time he dead names a trans person, but Anha and Jake tell me it's cool to deadname people if they're IC or ex-military[0x18], at which point even Lief intervenes and tells Jacob to stop deadnaming people.

Anha then goes on about three different tangents, how she talked to both Lorax and Emma under different identities, and how at some point she was also almost forced to work for the CIA by being paid by F-Droid for a trip to Iran, and how she was at the party where Jacob raped people and how she saw with her own eyes that this did not happen, and now that she is finally living as a trans person (still deadnames Lorax and Emma), now she has more empathy for what I say, that we should not call these people by their deadnames.

I congratulate Anha on learning to empathize with people, and explain that I was a little tired and didn't get much sleep, and it was a little difficult for me to follow how we went from going to Iran for F-Droid to how it's cool to deadname trans people. Jacob then says that Anha was sent to Iran by F-Droid with money from the Open Tech Fund, which receives funds from the US State Department, so it was the CIA that put her in a dangerous situation as a disposable CIA asset to possibly be killed by the Iranian government.

I answer: "Wow, it actually sounds like someone was too afraid to go to Iran." And I ask Jacob if he thinks that the Iranian people should have free access to the Internet and information, and if so, does the CIA think the same, and if so, wasn't he getting paid to do the CIA's bidding while working on Tor. And then I add that giving up a paid job based on moral principles is a position of economic privilege, and that many people don't have that choice. This really pisses Anha off, she explains that in fact she was sent to Iran to interview app developers, and these people were in danger, and that since she would have to send the results of her work back to OTF, she would be compiling hitlists for the CIA[0x19]. She says she respects some of what I've done, but this is really fucked up and uncalled for, takes off and leaves.

More and more people are coming into the room to sit down and see what's going on. I begin to explain that if you really understand how the Internet protocol works, it is already anonymous from design principles, because IP packets are not signed with a person's name, and an IP address is not really a reliable identifier with the number of residential routers used as black hat proxy servers. Jacob actually agrees with me.

Then Marie Kriel[0x1A] says to Jake, "I came here because I also really wanted to talk to you, I want this person to get the fuck out and leave." My friends tell me that it's late, it's time to go home, so I get up and, leaving, I say that Julian Assange can be replaced with mktorrent. This obviously makes everyone in the room really mad at me. Jacob tells me that if I really think people are replaceable, I should remove the "Free Jeremy Hammond" sticker from my laptop.

I tell him that I don't think that people can be replaced, I think that the roles of people can be replaced and that Emma Best can also be replaced with mktorrent. I leave, go home, idk what happened next.


I heard from my friend Jacob was very paranoid asking him every time he received an email from a person he did not recognize, if it was me.










[0x08] Jake is banned from Noisebridge.

[0x09] page 11

[0x0A] removed.


[0x0C] Ming Dynastie

[0x0D-a] Enegnei AKA Janine AKA J9Roem AKA Einzelgaengerin AKA aldmerinedic. Gave a talk at HiP about "Scientific Journalism." Author of the Git repository where she claims to be conducting "independent journalism"[0x0D-b] documenting the history of the accusations made against Jacob Appelbaum.

[0x0D-b] s/independent journalism/intimidation of her rapist boyfriend's victims/

[0x0E] ESSID: Cyberia

[0x0F] Can it push terabytes of data through it? No. Can it route TCP/IP? No. You're looking for a problem that hasn't existed outside academia for 10 years. If I want a mixnet, I'll just use I2P. Thanks.

[0x10] Founder of Distributed Denial of Secrets.


[0x12] DDoSecrets was actually launched in December 2018. Jacob kept saying 2017.

[0x13] Award-winning journalist. Most well known for shooting up heroin in a bathtub naked on a Tinychat stream in 2012. Contributed evidence against Jeremy Hammond in the Stratfor case by being too much of a deranged junkie to encrypt his hard drive. Went to prison for offering an FBI agent an apple, which is why many in the community continue to give him benefit of the doubt. Don't.

[0x14] How many times has Jake's mom changed her name?


[0x16] This will forever haunt me as my personal "I could have killed Hitler" moment, as I could have pushed Jacob into the Spree.

[0x17] Put this way, SecureDrop's main benefit is not that it protects the source's identity by using the Tor network, but being so complicated to use that the source is unlikely to make the elementary mistake of leaking documents from their work computer. The threat to the majority of potential sources is their employer's IT admin, the local police department, or their country's equivalent of the FBI. Not the "global all-seeing adversary" with a quantum computer. See also: [0x0F]

[0x18] I'd ask if they truly believe that, do they also deadname Chelsea Manning? I heard that Jake does.

[0x19] lol, ok, as far as I can tell, email works fine in Iran?

[0x1A] Apparently before throwing me out, they were trying to get Jacob thrown out.

ASCII art of a 5-point star. Caption reads: Courage is contagious. Keep rapists out of the community. Leak more documents (but not to Jacob Appelbaum)
ASCII art of a 5-point star. Reproduced as a screenshot to preserve formatting


What was renowned* privacy** activist*** Jacob Appelbaum doing while not being welcome at the HiP conference?

Can somebody explain why people ever took this guy who can't even keep his gooncave anonymous on the BitTorrent DHT seriously?

* s/renowned/disgraced/
** s/privacy/paranoid/
*** s/activist/rapist/

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org-name: Jacob Appelbaum

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Some people who read a previous version of this text that included Jacob's previously known home address and porn seedbox asked me to remove them. I removed the home address, as it's no longer accurate. I kept the porn, because:

a) it's amusing. to me.
b) unlike everything else in this text that relies on my recollection of events, it's verifiable by anybody with a binaryedge account and a whois client. it's my attempt at scientific journalism.
c) he did not seed the torrents which is a sin in my religion.

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