Fourth Amendment

Email Provider Threatened By Feds for Closing Rather Than Snooping

To refuse to serve the state is the highest crime

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The owner of an encrypted email service used by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden said he has been threatened with criminal charges for refusing to comply with a secret surveillance order to turn over information about his customers.

"I could be arrested for this action," Ladar Levison told NBC News about his decision to shut down his company, Lavabit LLC, in protest over a secret court order he had received from a federal court that is overseeing the investigation into Snowden.

Lavabit said he was barred by federal law from elaborating on the order or any of his communications with federal prosecutors. But a source familiar with the matter told NBC News that James Trump, a senior litigation counsel in the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., sent an email to Levison's lawyer last Thursday – the day Lavabit was shuttered—stating that Levison may have "violated the court order," a statement that was interpreted as a possible threat to charge Levison with contempt of court.

Editor's Note: More on Lavabit and Silent Circle shuttering their encrypted email services rather then cooperate with government surveillance.

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