The inside story of Snowden: how the files were leaked

There’s an absolutely stonking piece over at the New York Times magazine about the build-up to Edward Snowden’s information leak that continues to have ramifications around the world. (As an aside, Microsoft and Google are now suing the US government for the right to publish data requests from the spooks.) It’s the story of journalist Laura Poitras and her reporting partner Glenn Greenwald, and how they met Snowden in a Hong Kong Hotel.

As an insight into reporting techniques, the consequences for journalists as well as leakers in today’s days of heavy-handed government it’s a must read, and there’s tons of stuff on encryption techniques as well as the human story of the drama. I was going to link it in a Sunday Service yesterday, but Saturday’s events meant I had a day off. Sorry.

From the piece:

“Seconds after she decrypted and read the e-mail, Poitras disconnected from the Internet and removed the message from her computer. “I thought, O.K., if this is true, my life just changed,” she told me last month. “It was staggering, what he claimed to know and be able to provide. I just knew that I had to change everything.”

Apparently, Snowden only became convinced Poitras was the right journalist to talk to when he realised she was more paranoid than he.

It’s also revealing for how much more there is to come from Snowden. Poitras claims to be sitting on a lot more files which even The Guardian and NYT haven’t seen yet.


“We have this window into this world, and we’re still trying to understand it,” Poitras said in one of our last conversations. “We’re not trying to keep it a secret, but piece the puzzle together. That’s a project that is going to take time. Our intention is to release what’s in the public interest but also to try to get a handle on what this world is, and then try to communicate that.”

(Via Bruce Schneier – this is worth reading too for Schneier’s take on the mistakes Poitras and Greenwald made in trying to protect their data)

Join the conversation