Edward Snowden Reveals He Paid in Bitcoin to Leak Government Secrets

Neil Dennis

US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed on Thursday, June 27, that to avoid detection he relied on the veiled nature of Bitcoin transactions to pay for the servers he used to leak information to the media back in 2013.

Snowden's disclosures to the press when a government employee working for some of the US's top intelligence agencies revealed a number of global surveillance operations run by the National Security Agency (NSA) and by multilateral security group the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance.

Having been granted asylum by Russia, and speaking from a secret location in Moscow to the Bitcoin 2019 conference in San Francisco, Snowden revealed:

The servers that I used to transfer this information to journalists were paid for using Bitcoin.

State Employment

Snowden was employed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a technology specialist responsible for maintaining computer network security at the government agency.

While he resigned from the CIA in 2009, he then worked as a subcontractor for Dell, which was managing network systems for several government agencies, and then in 2013 for Booz Allen Hamilton, an NSA subcontractor.

It was after leaving employment at an NSA facility in Hawaii that Snowden flew to Hong Kong in May 2013 and began disclosing multiple classified documents to journalists at the Guardian in the UK and to US documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.

Snowden told the Bitcoin conference:

Bitcoin is free money […] you are able to exchange and interact permissionless.

Privacy and Freedom

Praising the decentralized nature of Bitcoin's underlying blockchain that allows transactions to be recorded but not directly monitored by outside agents, he added:

And when I think about privacy, that’s what it’s all about. What does liberty mean? It’s freedom from permission, it means we live our lives in a way that we can experiment, we can engage, we can try things, we can even fail, and we don’t have to get a permission slip from the principal’s office.

While Snowden remains an enemy of the state to the US government, many around the world who disdain state-backed prying regard him as a hero. 

Strictly speaking a criminal himself, Snowden tackled the subject of cryptocurrency-funded crime such as money laundering, but added: "There are a hell of a lot more criminals that use the dollar." 

Bittrex International Closes Service for More than 30 Countries

  • Bittrex International is closing its service for clients in more than 30 countries, including Venezuela.
  • Users have until Oct. 29 to withdraw their funds from the exchange. 

Cryptoasset exchange Bittrex International will no longer be offering services to clients in more than 30 countries, including Venezuela and Egypt. 

According to the press release, the exchange informed customers residing in the now excluded countries that they would no longer be able to use the services of Bittrex International. 

Users will have until Oct. 29 to remove their funds from the exchange, 

On October 18, Bittrex International informed customers who reside in certain countries (see full list below) that they can no longer use the Bittrex International platform due to regulatory uncertainty. All trading and account access for these impacted customers will be halted on Tuesday, October 29 date at 19:00 UTC/21:00 CEST.

Bittrex International, which is based out of Malta, published a guide for withdrawing funds from the exchange, including a warning that customers must have 3 times the withdrawal fee amount in order to do so. 

Among the countries listed was Venezuela, which caught community members by surprise given the country’s growing adoption for crypto. 

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