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.
63 months minus 28 served. $890,250 on restitutions. $225 in fines. 3 years supervised release. #FreeBB— Bearded Elvis (@OldCaesarCole) January 22, 2015
Judge agreed with defense on how to calculate sentencing level. #BarrettBrown— Alexa O'Brien (@carwinb) January 22, 2015
Barrett Brown's lawyers argued for 30 months based on mitigating factors. #FreeBB— Alexa O'Brien (@carwinb) January 22, 2015
Issues this morn was what behavior, mitigating factors COULD/MUST court take considering determining sentence per sent. guidelines. #freebb— Alexa O'Brien (@carwinb) January 22, 2015
Brown "took possession of the availability" of Stratfor's data, prosecutor said. Compared linking to giving a burgler a "key" to a house.— Dell Cameron (@dellcam) January 22, 2015
Judge didn't think whether data was "public or private is relevant." Trafficking applied based on relevant conduct exhibits submitted.— Dell Cameron (@dellcam) January 22, 2015
Judge Lindsay also mentioned that Barrett was "more involved than what he wants the court to believe" #FreeBarrett #FreeBB— Jeff Durkin (@Jeffwrcct) January 22, 2015
Link sharing enhanced Brown's sentencing level. "You can traffic in something publicly available," prosecution argued.— Dell Cameron (@dellcam) January 22, 2015
Prosecution repeatedly asserted that b/c Barrett posted the link, that could be classified as Credit Card trafficking #FreeBB #FreeBarrett— Jeff Durkin (@Jeffwrcct) January 22, 2015
Notable that though there's no evidence Barrett took part in the hack releasing credit card info judge is determined he did. #FreeBB— Bearded Elvis (@OldCaesarCole) January 22, 2015
"Read the statement Barrett Brown read to the court in his sentencing hearing"
"Journalist Barrett Brown to be sentenced today"
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