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Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

U.S. Internet activist, former WikiLeaks informant receives 10 years in prison



Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old Internet activist and WikiLeaks informant from Chicago, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and three years of supervised release on Nov. 15 after pleading guilty to hacking into the servers of the Texas-based private global intelligence company Strategic Forcasting (Stratfor) and leaking the information he gathered to WikiLeaks.

The sentencing was prescribed under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and Hammond’s sentence could have been four times as long if he had not pleaded guilty, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Hammond, member of the hacker group AntiSec, told a Manhattan court that he was directed by an FBI informant to break into the official websites of several governments around the world, according to the Guardian. Hammond “told a federal court for the southern district of New York that a fellow hacker who went under the internet pseudonym ‘Sabu’ had supplied him with lists of websites that were vulnerable to attack, including those of many foreign countries. The defendant mentioned specifically Brazil, Iran and Turkey before being stopped by judge Loretta Preska, who had ruled previously that the names of all the countries involved should be redacted to retain their secrecy,” the Guardian reported.

A cache of 5.2 million leaked emails and account information for about 860,000 Stratfor subscribers and clients, including 60,000-credit cards-worth of information, emerged from the Stratfor hack, reported the Huffington Post. WikiLeaks then published the information obtained from the emails, with the help of 25 news platforms and organizations.

The information that Hammond obtained by hacking into Stratfor was posted on another platform by Barrett Brown, a journalist who could face up to 105 years in prison for various charges related to his reporting on the hacker collective Anonymous and private intelligence firm Stratfor.

The Obama administration has waged the most aggressive campaign against whistleblowers in U.S. history and Hammond was the fourth whistleblower to receive a long jail sentence just this year alone in the United States, Reporters without Borders said. The administration is responsible for six of the nine total indictments ever brought by any single administration under the Espionage Act of 1917.

“Is 10 years in jail the price of information in the public interest?” Reporters Without Borders said. “The 5 million emails that Hammond gave to WikiLeaks shed light on the often very questionable activities of a company whose services are used by the federal government and major industrial corporations.”

Hammond was arrested on March 5, 2012 after prosecutors said that he was a member of a group called AntiSec (or Lulzsec), an Anonymous offshoot, based off of information provided by an FBI mole in AntiSec. He was also convicted for distributing the bank account details of Stratfor clients, which had resulted in the illegal transfer of 700,000 to NGO accounts.



1 comment

 
Oona Houlihan wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

Agents provocateurs to undermine US security?

"... directed by an FBI informant ..." - of course the informant, as an instigator, gets an even higher sentence ... or am I missing something?

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