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Jacob Appelbaum, cofounder of the Noisebridge Hacker Space, was detained this Thursday while entering the country to attend Defcon, which describes itself as “the world’s longest running and largest underground hacking conference.”

Earlier this month, Appelbaum filled in for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had been slated to be the keynote speaker at a hacker conference in New York called Next HOPE. Assange decided not to enter the United States for fear that he would be arrested on charges related to the arrest of Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning, who is being held under suspicion of supplying documents related to the war in Afghanistan to WikiLeaks. At the keynote, Appelbaum exhorted the crowd to donate time and money to Wikileaks.

CNET has the most comprehensive story on Appelbaum’s detention so far:

“…he was pulled aside by customs and border protection agents who told him he was randomly selected for a security search, according to the sources familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous.

“Appelbaum, a U.S. citizen, was taken into a room, frisked and his bag was searched. Receipts from his bag were photocopied and his laptop was inspected but it’s not clear in what manner, the sources said. Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Army then told him he was not under arrest but was being detained, the sources said. They asked questions about Wikileaks, asked for his opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and asked where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is, but he declined to comment without a lawyer present, according to the sources. He was not permitted to make a phone call, they said.

“After about three hours, Appelbaum was given his laptop back but the agents kept his three mobile phones, sources said.

“Asked for comment, Appelbaum declined to talk to CNET. However, he made reference to his phone getting seized to Defcon attendees.”

In addition to cofounding and serving as executive director of Noisebridge, Appelbaum worked as system administrator for the local porn company Kink.com. Currently he is based in Seattle and works as a developer on the Tor Project, which uses free software and a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world to prevent the sites you visit from logging your physical location, and to prevent anyone watching your Internet connection from learning which sites you visit.

Full audio of Appelbaum’s speech at the Next HOPE.

Article in the New Yorker about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Article in Pro Publica about the relative importance of the WikiLeaks documents versus the Pentagon Papers, and another about how WikiLeaks is changing the relationship between goverment and large papers like the New York Times.

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Heather Smith covers a beat that spans health, food, and the environment, as well as shootings, stabbings, various small fires, and shouting matches at public meetings. She is a 2007 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a contributor to the book Infinite City.

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