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The NSA whistleblower and privacy advocate was one of six participants in the cryptocurrency’s fabled 2016 “trusted setup” ceremony, using a pseudonym.

Edward Snowden, the former U.S. defense contractor whose leaks ignited a worldwide debate about internet surveillance, played a secret role in the creation of the privacy-enhancing cryptocurrency zcash (ZEC).

The whistleblower, who was granted asylum in Russia and has lived there since 2013 after the U.S. charged him with espionage, was one of the six participants in the “ceremony” that established zcash’s so-called trusted setup.

His previously undisclosed involvement in the 2016 ceremony was revealed in a video set to be released Thursday by Zcash Media, an outfit that produces educational materials about the privacy coin.

“I saw it being worked on by a number of trusted academic cryptographers and I thought it was a very interesting project,” Snowden said in the video.

He said he used the pseudonym “John Dobbertin” to hide his role in the setup.


Brockwell, Naomi. “Edward Snowden Played Key Role in Zcash Privacy Coin’s Creation.” CoinDesk Latest Headlines RSS, CoinDesk, 27 Apr. 2022,