Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian writer behind the paper's massive scoops on National Security Agency spying, will leave the British outlet for a new news organization, Buzzfeed's Ben Smith reports. That organization, not yet named, is financially backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Omidyar has a history of tweeting supportive things about Greenwald's work, so his interest in funding a reporting enterprise around the journalist isn't exactly out of the blue. The Washington Post added more details on the new outlet later on Thursday. And it looks like Omidyar also wanted to hire the two other journalists most personally connected to the Snowden leaks:
The new, as-yet-unnamed news site has also sought to hire Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who was instrumental in linking former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to Greenwald and Barton Gellman of The Washington Post. Another potential hire is Jeremy Scahill, national security reporter of the Nation magazine, said a person familiar with the venture.
Gellman, for one, has already said that he's not involved in the new publication.
Omidyar has two previous journalism ventures — a shuttered hyperlocal network of news sites called Backfence, and the investigative reporting-heavy Honolulu Civil Beat. Like Greenwald's new gig, both sites were funded by the Omidyar Network.
With the help of leaked documents from Edward Snowden, Greenwald has set the terms of the debate with his reporting on the NSA's international spying program.
"The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline," he told Buzzfeed in an email.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Greenwald said his new gig will be "very well-funded" and that he has "hired a fair number of people already," but he refused to name the money's source or the identity of his new coworkers. Greenwald said the new site would cover general news -- sports and entertainment sitting comfortably beside the high-level national security stuff -- but that he would run the political journalism unit. Greenwald revealed the new operation will have offices in New York, Washington and San Francisco to The Washington Post's Erik Wemple.
Until reports named Omidyar as Greenwald's backer, speculation on possible investors included Facebook supporter Peter Thiel and the $40 million funding round Vox Media just amassed for no particular reason .
The often combative blogger is leaving on good terms with The Guardian, according to a release from spokesperson Jennifer Lindenauer.
"Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him. Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered."
Greenwald had said back in August that he had not shared all of the relevant Snowden documents with The Guardian, and that he and filmmaker Laura Poitras are the only two with the full archive. He has been writing recently from his home in Brazil.
The now-independent journalist is launching his new venture when his work could not be in higher demand. He has a book coming out with publisher Metropolitan Books, set for a March 2014 release, about how he was able to report on the National Security Agency's massive surveillance operation through leaked files from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. There's also the current bidding war happening between Hollywood studios and HBO over the book's complicated movie rights contract reported by The New York Times' Michael Ceiply over the weekend.
If there's one thing we know for sure, it's this: Glenn Greenwald is so hot right now.