By Jennifer Martinez - 08/08/13 10:05 PM EDT
"I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on — the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this," he says. "Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."
Snowden, who leaked several classified documents about phone and Internet data collection surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency, used a Lavabit email address to invite journalists and activists to a briefing at the Moscow airport last month, according to Forbes. The former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor had been staying in the Russian airport for weeks to evade a U.S. extradition order to face espionage charges.
Levison did not say whether his shuttering of the email service was linked to a government request for information or data about Snowden. He said Lavabit is "preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals," and posted a link at the bottom of his message that prompts people to donate to the "Lavabit Legal Defense Fund."
"This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States," Levison writes.