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This Billionaire Really Likes Glenn Greenwald

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar has taken a large interest in Greenwald, who is soon leaving The Guardian. Greenwald won’t reveal his backer. Updated.


Pierre Omidyar

@pierre

There goes freedom of association: NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally http://t.co/1s19gZ28Av

/ Via

WASHINGTON — Pierre Omidyar, the multi-billionaire founder of eBay, has shown a lot of interest on social media in the last few months in Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who is leaving The Guardian after a series of scoops exposing large-scale domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Greenwald told BuzzFeed on Tuesday that he is leaving The Guardian to start a “momentous new venture.” He declined to discuss who would be funding the new outlet but said it would be “very well-funded” and “very substantial.”

Omidyar is based in Hawaii and became a billionaire after eBay went public in 1998. According to Forbes, he is worth $8.5 billion. He runs the Omidyar Network, an investment firm focused on philanthropy, and is also an investor in media: In 2010, he created Civil Beat, an investigative journalism startup focused on Hawaii. Recently, Civil Beat partnered with the Huffington Post to introduce HuffPost Hawaii.

Omidyar tweets almost exclusively about surveillance and civil liberties and often retweets Greenwald and others in his circle, like the journalist Jeremy Scahill.

He is a professed fan of Greenwald and often tweets his stories and tweets in support of him:


Pierre Omidyar

@pierre

@ggreenwald you’ve been the most consistent and knowledgable reporter on illegal (and now supposed legal) wiretapping since Bush disclosure.

/ Via

Pierre Omidyar

@pierre

1. Snowden steals secrets and gives to @ggreenwald. 2. Glenn verifies & publishes. 3. Police put screws on Glenn’s family. Model democracy.

/ Via

Pierre Omidyar

@pierre

When they tell you it’s just for counter-terror, ask them about this: http://t.co/t08J7rQTou via @ggreenwald

/ Via

Committee to Protect Journalists issues scathing report on Obama administration: by @ggreenwald http://t.co/UDRGrKphA1

— pierre (@Pierre Omidyar)

Pierre Omidyar

@pierre

Committee to Protect Journalists issues scathing report on Obama administration: by @ggreenwald http://t.co/UDRGrKphA1

/ Via

He defends Greenwald from critics:

@kakandeanderson @ggreenwald I agree it's hard to believe but we will have to wait and see the evidence.

— pierre (@Pierre Omidyar)

Pierre Omidyar

@pierre

@kakandeanderson @ggreenwald I agree it’s hard to believe but we will have to wait and see the evidence.

/ Via

In an interview with Civil Beat about the Huffington Post partnership, Omidyar, who was accompanied by Arianna Huffington at the interview, expanded on his views about the NSA: “Can we be truly free if we are surveilled all the time, if we have no privacy? I think that’s a really important debate to have.”

Greenwald declined to discuss who his financial backer is.

Spokespeople for Omidyar did not respond to repeated calls and emails requesting comment.

Update - 7:29 p.m., ET: Reuters has confirmed that Omidyar is the financial backer of the venture that Greenwald is joining.

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Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics, foreign affairs and international issues. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 52B1 92A9 D35B 3359 CF61 399B 0E8A 2948 10D0 8DD8
Contact Rosie Gray at rosie@buzzfeed.com
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