The Story Of How Weev Moved To Beirut.
I had heard of Weev. But then again, who in our Community had not ? Obviously, I had friends that knew him, and some others that, just like me, knew of him. The main common point between all these people is that everybody had an opinion on him. Everyone had something to say abou Weev; a comment here, a joke there, an insult or a praise (though the latter was fairly rare).
I had read some papers on him, be it online news or opinion pieces, but mainly after the AT&T incident as I never really cared for Trolls before and that was his main area of 'expertise'. Because of that I had never formulated a personal opinion on him, as I usually do not like to formulate opinions based on hearsay even if its from people that are friends, nor do I care to take up time to research in order to get a personal opinion on matters that really do not tickle my interest.
I did get interested after he got convicted because as an active member of the infosec community and a hacktivist I do give attention to legal matters related to alleged computer crimes, free speech issues, computer laws and so on.
That affair did stir the community quite a bit and if you are not familiar with it I invite you to look it up and juge for yourself, or just click this link and read on. Link To Weev Case Files
So by then I had my opinion, which relatively matched the one of all the smart people I knew: I thought Weev was an insensitive biased person who deserved to be in jail, except that not for the reason that he actually was put in jail. And when I say 'deserved to be in jail' it is obviously a figure of speech meaning 'deserved to be silenced one way or another' as for all I knew there was nothing he did that was legally wrong. Trolling is not a crime and free speech guarantees the right of every person to say what they want. Just as it is my right to decide not to give attention to it in any way, shape or form. I just did not like the guy and would not care to try to.
But that did not change the fact that as far as I was concerned, Weev had not commited an internet crime and the fact that he was convicted was a bad omen for our community as it meant that governments were being legally santionned to decide what were crimes and what were not and that existing computer laws (if we can call them that) were subject to a much wider interpretation that any of us would like.
So I kept following that story until the conviction was overturned and he was freed. I though: "Well, that is a good thing for civil rights", and was glad that the precedent was vacated. After that I never expected, nor cared, to hear from Weev again.
I was wrong.
It happened during the 'Hacker Summer Camp' as we like to call it this summer of 2014 in Vegas. A very dear friend of mine, someone that I have huge respect for and is an eminent member of our community, approached me asking me for a favor. I was going to comply regardless of what was asked because that is just the way I am with my friends. So I was told that Weev was planning to move to Beirut, Lebanon.
For those of you who do not know me, I am based in Beirut and am Lebanese by birth. I guess you can say I am the go-to guy for any matters related to the community in this region since there are not many hackers navigating the community who hail from the Middle-East. On a side note I am saddened by it, know the reasons behind it and trying to change that, but this will be the subject of another post.
So my friend hits me with this news and asks me to help him settle in and find his bearings. The friend in question had a good opinion of Weev having dealt with him in person and that is why the request was made.
I was rattled by this request since I really never planned to, nor wanted to, have anything to do with Weev. But nevertheless, I said that it would be done.
So I got in touch with Weev and it was agreed that he would contact me as soon as he would land in Lebanon.
The day finally arrived, which is about one month ago from the moment I am writing this post. I picked him up from the hotel he had checked into and we went for a coffee.
I was expecting to meet Weev, I actually got to hang out with Andrew. I expected the Troll, I got the Hacker.
Andrew is definately not Weev.
I met a nice guy, very educated, a high level of culture and sensible opinions on most things that you could come to expect to be discussed during two hackers meeting for the first time.
He explained his reasons for moving out of the US, I found no fault in his reasoning as based on his perspective of things. I expected to meet for a half hour max just enough to point him in the good direction as far as settling in is concerned, and hence fulfilling my promise. We actually hung out for a few hours and time flew by for me.
It's been a month now that Andrew has moved to Lebanon. I helped him get an apartment, phone, net access, and showed him around some of the cool spots. We have been hanging out, and I have to selflessly say that it has been a pleasure for me to do so as before he moved here, and except for when I had friends visiting or when I was away at cons or travels (which I have to admit if often, I am blessed to be able to sustain all these voyages), I never had someone as close as I am to the community living here and it always felt a bit lonely.
During that whole past month not once did Andrew give me reason to change my new opinion of him. Yes there are certain subjects that we don't talk about, and yes there are areas where we disagree. But until now I never saw a side of him that I would have expected. We have had healthy arguments, and interesting discussions.
The one thing I know for sure is that he might not like this post. For some reason Andrew likes people hating Weev. He likes to start controversy and even though I may not agree with it nor like the subjects he rants about, I know controversy is good as it spawns discussion. And discussion is always a good thing.
Andrew thinks that if people find out that behind the mask he is really a nice guy, the controversies he starts will not get that much attention. I think that is why he goes to extremes.
I'm sorry Andrew if you dissaprove of this post, but I really think it will not change people's opinion of you as you are one of these persons that really come out once people get to know you in person. So there is no imminent risk and all your haters will not be moved by this. I just had to express it and share it with whoever is reading this (yes, I mean you, dear reader).
I still don't want to have anything to do with Weev. But as far as Andrew is concerned well, so far, I am not ashamed of calling him friend and will stand by it for as long as Andrew's around.