California State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of a man said to have owned and operated a so-called revenge porn website. According to the arrest warrant (PDF), the site operated by Kevin Christopher Bollaert published over 10,000 sexually explicit photos. The young women who appeared in these images, some of whom were minors at the time they were taken, were charged up to $350 each to be removed from the site.
California Department of Justice agents arrested Bollaert, 27, in San Diego where he lived. He is in San Diego County jail on $50,000 bail, and has been charged with 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion. If he is convicted, penalties may include jail time and fines.
The arrest warrant is well worth a read. It includes the stories of a number of young women who ended up physically exposed and personally identified on the internet against their will. In some cases, private photos made their way online after their accounts were hacked or phones snatched. The women speak about how that violation damaged their lives and destroyed their sense of privacy.
During an in-person interview with two special agents, Bollaert bemoaned the burden of all those emails he was receiving from young women and teens, asking for images to be removed -- a service he charged hundreds of bucks for.
"At the beginning this was like fun and entertaining," he said to the agents, "But now it's ruining my life." At the end of the meeting, the agents served him with search warrants.
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The Chronicle of Higher Education talks to a sociologist who spent years living with and learning the stories of people affected by mass incarceration
. — Maggie
"Spain, whose judges have aggressively pursued human rights abuse cases far beyond its borders, finds itself on the receiving end of such an inquest." A judge in Argentina is trying to extradite and bring to justice Spanish police officials accused of torturing opponents of the regime under Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator who died in 1975. Victims of those abuses "filed a lawsuit in Buenos Aires in 2010, after getting nowhere in Spain because of a 1977 amnesty law meant to smooth Spain’s return to democracy." Raphael Minder has more in the NYT
. — Xeni
Huge human rights news from Latin America today: the Center for Justice & Accountability and the family of Victor Jara are suing the man indicted by Chilean prosecutors for torturing and killing Jara in 1973. Pedro Barrientos is accused of firing the shot that killed the Chilean folk singer and activist, but Barrientos currently resides in Florida.
Through the lawsuit, Jara's family hope to prove his culpability in a federal courtroom in Jacksonville, Florida, with rarely-used US laws addressing human rights violations committed outside of the country.
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In 2003, the excellent documentary film Capturing the Friedmans
told the story of a family falling apart under a 1980s investigation and subsequent trial of the father, Arnold Friedman, and his son, Jesse Friedman, for child molestation. Both pled guilty but shortly after the trial, Jesse insisted that he was innocent, had been pressured into the guilty plea, and began pushing the courts for a re-investigation. Arnold Friedman committed suicide in prison in 1995. On Monday, the Nassau County District Attorney released a new 160-page-report they say supports their investigation and prosecution of Jesse Friedman.
According to the report, "by any impartial analysis, the re-investigation process prompted by Jesse Friedman, his advocates and the 2nd Circuit, has only increased confidence in the integrity of Jesse Friedman’s guilty plea and adjudication as a sex offender."
Friedman isn't giving up though.
“Today is not the worst day of my life," he said. “I’ve had many, many worse days than today and I’m standing strong and I’ve got as much fight in me — I’ve got more fight in me — than I’ve ever, ever had before. So, game on.”
Subject of Oscar-nominated ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ vows fight for exoneration will go on (Washington Post)
"Exonerating Jesse Friedman" (FreeJesse.net)
John C. Kiriakou, a former CIA officer whom the government spent five years trying to convict for disclosing classified information, was today sentenced to 30 months in jail.
He is the first CIA officer in history to face prison for a leak.
From the NYT report by Michael S. Schmidt:
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After getting caught in the act -- specifically, the act of masturbating at Hollywood's Tiki Theater (for adults)
-- Fred Willard has avoided trial after completing a "diversion program for minor sexual offenses"
in September. I'm going to pretend that this program was conducted by a Christopher Guest character to make this story extra fun, now that it looks like it's over. (via Huffington Post
) — Jamie
The Pottstown Mercury, a newspaper in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, recently started posting police mugshots of wanted criminals on Pinterest. Sounds crazy, right? Well, the novel use of a social networking site known best for nail art, cupcakes, and motivational posters with bad typography has become quite a success for local law enforcement. As you can see by scrolling through the board, users are sharing comments on where police might look for each wanted man or woman. Here's an interview with one of the paper's "Pinners," and more context on Poynter. According to an interview with police in the Pottstown Mercury, the project has resulted in a 58% increase in arrests.
Admittedly, I am biased, but New York state supreme court judge Gustin L. Reichbach speaks for me when he writes in a New York Times op-ed today that medical marijuana "is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue."
Like me, justice Reichbach has cancer. He has pancreatic cancer, and a prognosis that involves a short window of survival, and great pain and suffering during treatment.
"Medical science has not yet found a cure," he writes, "but it is barbaric to deny us access to one substance that has proved to ameliorate our suffering."
Read it and demand change: A Judge’s Plea for Medical Marijuana.(NYT, via Clayton Cubitt)
Yesterday, Byron Sonne was acquitted of all charges against him. Sonne is the Toronto-area security researcher who pointedly demonstrated the inadequacy and incoherence of the heavy-handed, $1.2B security arrangements for the G20 summit in 2010. Denise Balkissoon has done some of the best reporting on the bizarre trial that followed (after Sonne spent nearly a year in jail), and now she's got good commentary on the acquittal:
“Byron Sonne, you’re a free man,” said one of his lawyers, Joe DiLuca, as Sonne stood outside the courthouse.
“I can be a moron again on the internet,” Sonne said, as he ripped up court documents that listed the bail conditions—including a curfew and not using a cellphone—that he has lived with since May 2011...
Later on the day of the verdict, in Kensington Market, Sonne stood having a cigarette and discussing Anonymous and Gandhi with Alex Hundert, who pled guilty to counselling to commit mischief during the G20. “They took a somewhat radical person like me and said, ‘Let’s put the guy in jail with real radicals,'” said Sonne, who was not involved with organized activists in advance of the summit. “I’m not interested in playing by the rules anymore.”
Sonne said he intends to help non-technologically savvy activists learn to encrypt their computers and online communications. Police were unable to unencrypt one of Sonne’s hard drives, which led the Crown to argue that it must contain nefarious plans. “There’s nothing on there that wasn’t on my other computers,” said Sonne, who said he encrypted it for travelling over the U.S. border. “But it’s good to know that the technology works.”
Sonne aims to get back the computer security certification that was suspended during his arrest, and wants to start rebuilding his professional network.
Sounds like he needs a job. Toronto-area readers, take note!
Here's our previous Sonne posts.
Byron Sonne, found not guilty on all charges, has plans for the future
Photo: Jasmina in a former prison. "Despite the scale of the facility, it was densely crowded once." Shot by Bruce Sterling.
This morning, The Hague tribunal commenced the trial of Ratko Mladic, ex commander of the army of the Serbian republic in Bosnia. Mothers of the slain gathered in front of the court.
Twenty years ago, Mladic started his criminal activities, while still an officer of the army of disintegrating Yugoslavia. A year ago, Mladic was arrested, after years of concealment, mostly within Belgrade. Today Mladic, aged 70, is sitting in the court neatly dressed as a civilian, without his legendary military cap.
As the judge reads the indictment, Mladic cheerily waving to the audience and even applauds certain parts of the recitation. "The wolf loses his hair but not his character," as the Serbian proverb puts it.
The indictment precisely proceeds as a short elementary lesson of the bloody fall of Yugoslavia.
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Twitter's #freebyron hashtag is alive with the news that Byron Sonne, the Toronto-area security expert who was incarcerated and treated as a terrorist for pointing out and making fun of the security flaws in the $1.2B security scheme for the Toronto G20 summit, has been found Not Guilty on all counts.
A moment of sanity from the Canadian judicial system, and all it cost was Sonne's marriage, house, and freedom.
Here's our earlier Sonne pieces.
Democracy Now has a big update in the homicide of 68-year-old Kenneth Chamberlain, a black Marine vet shot dead at his home by police in White Plains, New York, last November after he accidentally set off his wearable medical alert device. A previous BB post on the story is here. The victim's son and other advocates have been pressuring authorities to release the name of the officer involved:
Documented in audio recordings, the White Plains police reportedly used a racial slur, burst through Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, then shot him dead. "The last time I actually really saw my father, other than the funeral, was at the hospital, with his eyes wide open, his tongue hanging out his mouth, and two bullet holes in his chest," said Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr. "And I’m staring at my father, wondering, 'What happened?'"
The alleged shooter, Officer Anthony Carelli, is due in court later this month in an unrelated 2008 police brutality case. He is accused of being the most brutal of a group of officers who allegedly beat two arrestees of Jordanian descent and called them "rag heads."
Video, audio, and transcript here.
The Trayvon Martin story remains in national headlines this week, but little media attention has been paid to a similarly troubling case: that of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old Marine vet killed in his home last November by police officers in White Plains, NY.
The officers were responding to a false alarm accidentally triggered by Chamberlain's medical alert pendant while he slept. Instead of helping the man, who had a heart condition, they broke down his front door, tasered him, reportedly called him the "n-word" and mocked him, then shot him dead.
Audio throughout the incident was recorded by his medical alert device.
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Maher Arar, a Canadian who was rendered to Syria for years of brutal torture on the basis of bad information from Canada's intelligence agencies, writes in Prism about the revelation that Canadian public safety minister Vic Toews has given Canadian intelligence agencies and police the green light to use information derived from torture in their work. Arar cites examples of rendition and torture based on the "Hollywood fantasy that underlines the 'ticking bomb' scenario that minister Toews was apparently contemplating when he wrote this directive."
What makes this direction even more alarming is that the fat annual budgets devoted to enhancing national security have not been balanced by a similar increase in oversight. In fact, the government chose to ignore the most important recommendation of Justice O’Connor which is to establish a credible oversight agency that has the required powers to monitor and investigate the activities of the RCMP and those of other agencies involved in the gathering and dissemination of national security information. Unlike the powerless Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) or the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) this agency would also be granted subpoena power to compel all agencies to produce the required documents.
Coming back to the directive one can only cite two examples here which I believe are sufficient to illustrate the hollowness of the argument presented in the directive. The first relates to the invasion of Iraq which we now know was based on false intelligence (see this video) that was extracted from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi while he was being tortured in Egypt. Al-Libi was later found dead inside his prison cell. Some human rights activists believe the Gaddafi regime liquidated him three years after he was rendered to Libya by the CIA.
Torture Directive 2.0
(Image: Rothenburg Germany Torture Museum, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nanpalmero's photostream)