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The Real Story Behind the Real Story of Ladar Levison and Lavabit

Ladar Levison and his dog Princess.  (photo by Elizabeth Lavin)
Ladar Levison and his dog Princess. (photo by Elizabeth Lavin)

I’ll be honest with you. When I read a news story a couple months back about the guy who owned the email service used by Edward Snowden and about how the guy shut down his company when the FBI came looking for more information than the guy thought the feds were entitled to, I wanted to profile the guy just because of his name: Ladar Levison. It’s fun to say. Imagine if Ladar Levison liked to shop at Lululemon for his lady.

Then, as always happens in these situations, I spent way too much time with the guy, and I got to know him as a human, not just a name. Ladar is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. He’s a socially awkward (yet very popular) autodidact computer geek who also happens to play competitive volleyball. I spent seven weeks following him around, bothering him with questions. So now I care about the guy, and I care about his Fourth Amendment legal battle with the feds. In fact, that’s what I told Ladar when he agreed to let me spend time with him: I wanted to make him a real person, someone readers would care about, so they’d pay attention to his court case.

We posted the story this morning. Now comes the hard part. I’ve got to wait for the guy to read it.