Journalist Barrett Brown, who once served as an unofficial spokesperson for the Anonymous hacking group was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Thursday, after pleading guilty to several charges.
After already having served over 2 years in detention in Dallas, Texas, Barrett has been sentenced to serve 63 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $890,000 in reconstructive fines related to the 2011 hacking incident of Stratfor Global Intelligence, the hack that landed him in the hot seat. Barrett Brown has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to “transmitting a threat in interstate commerce,” “for interfering with the execution of a search warrant,” and to being an “accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer.”
It was over a year ago that another federal official sentenced an Anonymous member, Jeremy Hammond, to 10 years in federal prison for leaking millions of emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, and releasing them on the whistleblowing website Wikileaks. Hammond told federal officials that Brown simply linked to the hacked data, and had not part in the massive attack.
Brown’s investigation began in 2012 when he was detained and charged with 12 cybercrime cases, including a fraudulent charge for sharing a link within an IRC chat channel. The channel had many Anonymous members at the time, sharing stolen information within the channel from the hack, including some financial details.
According to federal officials within the Department of Justice (DoJ), sharing the link to stolen data was a legitimate charge because “by transferring and posting the hyperlink, Brown caused the data to be made available to other persons online, without the knowledge and authorization of Stratfor and the card holders.”
Such faulty and loosely based charges were later dropped and replaced by three more serious charges based around being involved with the actual hack, stacking up hacking charges, obstruction of justice and allegedly threatening an official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through a YouTube video.
Barrett Brown’s arrest came only hours after the journalist posted a YouTube video titled, “Why I’m Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith.”
The three charges and fines Barrett Brown has been served with landed him serious time in jail being:
- Count 1: 48 months in prison
- Count 2: 12 months in prison
- Count 3: 3 months in prison.
- Fines: Ordered to pay $890,000 in compensation.
Brown supporters worldwide had been hoping his precious 31 months sentence would have been his last for what some insist was only the sharing of a link to hacked material, but instead he has been dealt with five years and a massive fine.
Brown describes the Stratfor hack and the shared link was still the governments central motive within the Stratfor hacking case against him. “The fact that the government has still asked you to punish me for that link is proof, if any more were needed, that those of us who advocate against secrecy are to be pursued without regard for the rule of law, or even common decency,” Brown told the judge.
After dealt his sentencing Brown sarcastically reflects on what he was dealt with:
The US Government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system. I want to thank the Department of Justice for having put so much time and energy into advocating on my behalf; rather than holding a grudge against me for the two years of work I put into bringing attention to a DOJ-linked campaign to harass and discredit journalists like Glenn Greenwald, the agency instead labored tirelessly to ensure that I received this very prestigious assignment.
Wish me luck!