A pro-privacy email service long used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden abruptly shut down today, blaming a secret U.S. court battle it has been fighting for six weeks — one that it seems to be losing so far.
“I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit,” owner Ladar Levison wrote in a statement. “After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations.”
Based in Texas, Lavabit attracted attention last month when NSA leaker Edward Snowden used an email account with the service to invite human rights workers and lawyers to a press conference in the Moscow airport where he was then confined. A PGP crypto key apparently registered by Snowden with a Lavabit address suggests he’s favored the service since January 2010 — well before he became the most important whistleblower in a generation.