The man who led a procession of followers to the U.S. embassy in Malta

Peter Thiel, Major U.S. Political Donor, Is Said to Pursue Maltese Citizenship

Enlarge this image toggle caption Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

In 2014, a man wearing a black robe, with a face obscured by a surgical mask, led a procession of followers to the U.S. embassy in Malta, an island nation in the Mediterranean off the coast of southern Europe. His aim, he said, was to get the U.S. government’s permission to apply for citizenship to an American citizen whom he has lived with and helped support for 12 years, known only as “John.”

The man, described by the Associated Press as a well-known computer programmer, said he first helped finance Thiel, and then recruited him to come to Malta. “He is my friend and I love him,” he said, “which is why I am doing this.”

It was a stunt that may not have been as outlandish as it seemed, given the president of the U.S. is a major proponent of open borders and a libertarian activist who has said the American Dream “is dead” because of illegal immigration.

Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal, the online payment service that was recently valued at $17.5 billion, and he has a net worth of at least $6.4 billion. The founder of Paypal also is the person who has raised about $7 billion, and he was one of the early investors in Facebook.

But despite his enormous wealth, Thiel is seen more as a man of the left, and a major backer of progressive causes. He supports public education and gun control, opposed to the death penalty and was a board member of both the Center for American Progress and the National Democratic Institute.

But on Sunday, The Guardian called Thiel, a man “who is among the most progressive donors to a range of progressive causes over the past 30 years,” and the author of “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to build the Future,” one of the world’s wealthiest men.

The paper, which also quoted Thiel’s father, John C. Thiel, as saying “his son had been misled about the extent of his support for political causes” and was “not a committed philanthropist” before joining Paypal and Facebook

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