"One year ago today was the first time I fled my house due to a threat. It was
eight days after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The night of the
invasion, I made a Reddit post offering my airline miles, and ended up matching
dozens of donors with airline miles with combat veterans and medics headed to
Ukraine. The messages moved so fast that I don’t even have a good record of how
many people I matched in those early days.
When I first started helping combat veterans go to Ukraine to fight I wanted to
remain anonymous. I have a career I love and one that might be set back if
people knew I was helping veterans fight a war (my fears were correct and my
career did take that hit). But more importantly I was not living in a country
with a free press or a democratic regime.
At the time it wasn’t even clear if that country was on Russia’s side. I stayed
anonymous and used a VPN. I’ve spent most of my adult life doing human rights
work in autocratic regimes; I knew the tricks to stay below the radar.
Those tricks didn’t work this time. A hacker claiming to be paid by the Russian
government doxed my location and issued a death threat. The death threat scared
me but the other half of the threat scared me more. They claimed to have
reported me to the police in that country, with a message about wanting to see
what the police would find on my computer.
I knew what that meant; they had planted something. I booked the first
available flight to the USA.
Packing a bag to flee for your life is the strangest feeling in the world. It
goes by so fast you question if it happened. It goes by so slowly you can
remember every possession you looked at and thought about taking but didn’t."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics