Lead software developer for Tor, Isis Agora Lovecruft claims that the FBI is harassing her because they would like to talk with her, but will not disclose a reason why. An FBI agent showed up at her parents home and left a card, instructing them to have Isis call them. Later, phone calls to her parents home from the FBI requesting her to contact them once more started. Lovecruft didn’t contact them herself. Instead she had her lawyer reach out to the FBI agent in question.
“Word got to my lawyer in the U.S., who decided to call FBI Special Agent Mark Burnett, on that Friday, saying that he represented me and my family. Burnett said the FBI simply wanted to ask me some questions. My lawyer responded by stating that as my invoked representation, all questions should be directed through him rather than me or my family. The agent agreed, paused while some muffled male voices were heard in the background, and asked to call back in five minutes,” Lovecruft stated.
“Five minutes later, Burnett called back and said; “I don’t believe you actually represent her.” Burnett stated additionally that a phone call from me might suffice, but that the FBI preferred to meet with me in person. After a pause he said, “But if we happen to run into her on the street, we’re gonna be asking her some questions without you present.” Lovecruft said about the conversation.
Making matters worse, Lovecruft was far into the process of moving permanently to Germany, and had just visited her family in the U.S. Isis was worried she would even be able to leave. She flew back to Europe without incident. Once she was safely back inside Germany, she focused on obtaining the documents in order to get her official residence visa to live in Germany when the Feds came looking for her.
“The day before my appointment, I spoke with my lawyer. He had received another call this time from FBI Special Agent Kelvin Porter from Atlanta,” Lovecruft said.
The conversation is as follows:
FBI: This is Special Agent Kelvin Porter at the FBI field office in Atlanta. I’m calling concerning your client.
Lawyer: Yes. Why are you trying to contact her?
FBI: Well, as before we would strongly prefer to meet her in person. We have teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Atlanta on look out for her.
Lawyer: Your colleague mentioned last time you would accept a phone call?
FBI: We would strongly prefer to meet her in person. We…uh..have some documents we’d like her opinion on.
Lawyer: Umm? What documents?
FBI: Anyway, if she’s available to meet with us, that would be great, thanks.
“It didn’t exactly help with the stress of applying for a residence visa knowing that there were teams in five cities across America keeping an eye out for me. However, I’m glad to say that, the next day my residence visa was approved. Eight hours after that, my lawyer received a voice mail.
“Hello. This is Special Agent Kelvin Porter. We spoke two days ago regarding your client. Umm…well…so the situation with the documents…it’s umm…it’s all fixed. I mean, we would of course still be happy t meet with your client if she’s willing, but the problem has…uh..yeah..been fixed. And uh…yeah. Just let us know if she wants to set up a meeting,” the voice mail said.
With that phone call, everything seemed to be done. All this took place in January. Last week however, the FBI was in contact once more, wanting to serve Lovecruft with a subpoena.
“The FBI has contacted my lawyer again. This time, they’ve said “She should meet with one of our agents in San Francisco to talk. Otherwise, are you the point of contact for serving a subpoena? Shes not the target of investigation, but, uh, we uh…need her to clear up her involvement or..uh..potential involvement in a matter,”” she stated about the FBI’s most recent conversation.
Isis is reasonably worried that whatever the FBI wants to ask her will come along with a gag order, making her unable to talk about it.
“I didn’t talk to anyone who wasn’t already in regular contact with me, fearing I might endanger them. Some thug might show up at their moms door and make some threats to their lawyers, and I didn’t want to risk harming people I care about. It hurt to not tell my friends what was happening. I felt gagged and frightened. I wanted to play chess in the park. I wanted to learn duets on the piano. I wanted to ride bicycles through the ancient groves in the park in the endless California sunshine. I wanted to bring homemade vegan gluten free brownies and stickers from collectives in France to my friends at the EFF. To be selfish, I wanted to read the number of theory papers Id just downloaded and play with a new pairing based cryptography library Id just been given the source to, but I couldn’t do those things either, simply because I was too stressed out to think straight. I got absolutely no work done,” Isis said.