/ Xeni Jardin / 11 am Thu, Jan 22 2015
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  • Journalist Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months in federal prison

    Journalist Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months in federal prison

    He's already served more than two years in prison on charges related to sources within the Anonymous hacktivist entity.

    A court in Dallas has sentenced Barrett Brown to 63 months in federal prison, minus 28 months already served. For count one in the case, he receives 48 months. For count 2, he receives 12 months. And for count 3, he receives 3 months. He is also ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution.

    The government's charges against the intelligence and security reporter stemmed from his relationship with sources close to the hacker group Anonymous, and the fact that Brown published a link to publicly-available copies of leaked Stratfor documents.

    Brown read a statement to the court during the sentencing hearing, and you can read that statement in entirety here.

    "Journalists are especially vulnerable right now, Your Honor, and they become more so when the FBI feels comfortable making false claims about them," Brown wrote:

    Deny being a spokesperson for Anonymous hundreds of times, and you’re still a spokesperson for Anonymous. Deny being a journalist once or twice, and you’re not a journalist. What conclusion can one draw from this sort of reasoning other than that you are whatever the FBI finds it convenient for you to be at any given moment. This is not the “rule of law”, Your Honor, it is the “rule of law enforcement”, and it is very dangerous.

    From our earlier coverage:

    Brown originally faced more than a century in prison on a swathe of charges relating hacks targeting corporations. He admitted lesser crimes to reduce his possible sentence to 8½ years.

    Published in Vanity Fair, The Guardian and elsewhere, Brown is often described as an "unofficial spokesperson" for the Anonymous collective, which he denies. He founded Project PM, a website intended to collate publicly-leaked information for use by journalists and activists.

    Among the secrets exposed were collaborative efforts between the government and private contractors to monitor social networks, and to develop online surveillance systems.

    Brown, 33, was arrested in 2012 after his and his mothers' homes were raided and he used "threatening" language toward FBI officers in a response posted to YouTube. He was subsequently accused of working with the hackers whose efforts yielded a huge tranche of embarrassing and revealing information concerning misbehavior and sleaze at U.S. government contractors.

    Among the charges was the claim that merely linking to the leaked information was illegal—an alleged crime for which prosecutors sought decades in prison and which roused the interest of press freedom groups.

    He ultimately signed a plea deal on three lesser charges: transmitting a threat, trying to hide a laptop computer during a raid, and to being "accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer." He spent a year awaiting trial in federal prison, and was subject to a 6-month gag order prohibiting him from discussing his case with the media.

    Tweets from observers, activists, and journalists present at today' sentencing hearing in the Dallas courtroom follow.

    "Read the statement Barrett Brown read to the court in his sentencing hearing"
    "Journalist Barrett Brown to be sentenced today"


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    Notable Replies

    1. This falls in line with some of the things I've heard from DoD infosec types, that they were warned that talking about the various leaks could land them in serious trouble for transmitting classified information.

      Our national security apparatus is becoming so big, bloated, and stupid that reform may very well be impossible. The fact is, though, that if we didn't have a threat, it would collapse in on itself.

      Small wonder, then, that we're bombing countries with brown people - gotta inspire more terrorists to replace the ones we just blew up in order to keep the threat valid. We can't de-escalate. Or leave people alone. We have to be faster, more intrusive, and crueler, until we find even the terrorist living within each person. After all, being against this hunt for terrorists means you are providing support to terrorists! Any interference with destroying the terrorists means the people responsible for that interference are terrorists too!

      And this is how you get a fundamentally decent people to support progroms, purges, and disapperings.

    2. Tawnie says:

      Barrett was not a Journalist. He was involved in anonymous, he threatened a federal agent and is a recovering addict. At his worst he allegedly beat his girlfriend , he killed his mom's cat and stuffed it. This is not a case of journalist freedom. Barrett is not a journalist, he is a published writer that had a very unhealthy obsession with Hunter Thompson. He is a disturbed man. I spent hours of my life in his Tiny Chat as he ranted, raved, and shot up.

    3. Nice Ad Hominem that you have there. It'd be a shame if anything happened to it...

    4. "Barrett was not a Journalist. He was involved in anonymous, he threatened a federal agent and is a recovering addict."

      Oh! Look! You are a first-time, single-post troll, with no history on the BBS forum and bring only an Ad Hominem attack without citation, against someone who's prosecution represents an abuse of state power and the suppression of First Amendment speech rights.

      Well done!

    5. I heard he also assassinated Kennedy, caused global warming, and is an agent of the lizardmen who are trying to take over the world. Citations? Nah, you should just trust me!

    Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

    22 more replies