[New York, NY] On November 20th, 2012, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska denied bail to Jeremy Hammond, a 27-year-old Chicago activist accused of hacking into the private intelligence firm Stratfor and releasing information to Wikileaks (full transcript).
Photograph by Jim Newberry http://jimnewberry.com
On November 22nd, 2012 a communique from hackers highlighted Judge Preska’s failure to disclose that her husband, Thomas J Kaveler is an employee of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, a current Stratfor client and associate, and moreover was himself a victim of the alleged hack (Kaveler’s Stratfor issued user ID is 234103 SOURCE). After independent confirmation of these facts, activists and attorneys have issued a call for Judge Preska to immediately recuse herself for failure to disclose this conflict of interest. At 1pm on Thursday, November 29th in New York’s Foley Square (MAP) activists, attorneys, and friends of Jeremy Hammond, including NLG President, Gideon Oliver, activist film maker Emily Kunstler, Andy Bichlbaum co-creator of the Yes Men, John Knefel cohost of Radio Dispatch, and Chicago activist Natalie Wahlberg will rally and hold a press conference to brief the media on their efforts to see Judge Preska recuse herself and assure Hammond access to a fair trial and due process.
The criminal complaint against Hammond alleges that the hack exposed the private information of 860,000 Stratfor clients, as well as 5 million emails, which WikiLeaks later published under the name “Global Intelligence Files.” The complaint goes on to say that hackers used Stratfor-associated credit card data to charge at least $700,000 on behalf of “dozens of charities and revolutionary organizations.” Some of this data released belongs specifically to Judge Preska’s husband. Judge Preska has failed to disclose her relationship with Stratfor and in doing so has denied Jeremy Hammond the opportunity for a fair trial. Hammond has pleaded not guilty to all charges alleged in the complaint.
A press release issued by the Anonymous Collective reads, “Judge Loretta Preska’s impartiality is compromised by her husband’s involvement with Stratfor and a clear prejudice against Hammond exists, as evidenced by her statements.” The press release continues, “Without justice being freely, fully and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights nor our property, can be protected.”
Jeremy’s friends, family and supporters stand in absolute solidarity with the following concerns expressed in the press release issued by Anonymous, “Judge Preska by proxy is a victim of the very crime she intends to judge Jeremy Hammond for. Judge Preska has failed to disclose the fact that her husband is a client of Stratfor, his email contents were released as part of the Stratfor dump and should recuse herself from Jeremy’s case or be in violation of multiple Sections of Title 28 of the United States Code.”
According to Sue Crabtree, a member of the Jeremy Hammond Solidarity Network who attended the bail hearing last week, Judge Preska ordered the continued incarceration of Hammond on the basis that he is a danger to the community and likely to flee the country if released from holding. Crabtree notes that Hammond, “does not now, nor has he ever, had a passport and has also since been added to the Domestic Terrorist Watch List.”
According to Judge Preska, Hammond was denied bail due to the possibility of a 37 years-to-life sentence, combined with his “lack of regard for legal authority make him a flight risk.” She also said Hammond’s peerless computer savvy puts him in a different class compared to defendants who make bail while facing other computer crimes. According to Crabtree, Judge Preska said Hammond’s alleged crimes “make him more dangerous to the community than an online sexual predator because he is able to hide his identity.” Judge Preska closed Tuesday’s bail hearing with a reiteration that he could be sentenced to serve anywhere from 360 months-to-life if convicted on all charges relating to last year’s Stratfor hack.
While Hammond’s case continues to develop a laundry list of stories of extralegal misconduct at the hands of Stratfor are being uncovered from the leaked Stratfor emails. Documents show Stratfor contractors spying on members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) upon the request of Coca Cola, documents detail jovial conversations about extra-judcial killings in the U.A.E., and repeated mentions of Dow Chemical hiring Stratfor to surveil The Yes Men, an activist-artist group who have used media stunts to shed light on the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy where as many as 20,000 Indians lost their lives and 500,000 others were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas. Moreover, the documents reveal that Stratfor was spying on the Bhopal victims who had since spoken out against Dow’s negligence.
“What could be sicker than an irresponsible company spending millions of dollars to spy on its victims? Thanks to the Stratfor leak, we know that’s just what Dow Chemical did, when they hired Stratfor to spy on us Yes Men—and on actual Bhopal victims—to keep tabs on anti-Dow activities, none of which were illegal. Neither we nor the Bhopal victims would have found this out if not for the leak of the Stratfor emails. However it happened, we’re very grateful for this contribution to democratic transparency, and to the effort to rein in these corporate giants that have gotten completely out of hand. Fortunately, people always find ways to resist,” said Andy Bichlbaum, co-creator of The Yes Men.
“In our increasingly authoritarian culture, the law is often used as a shield to protect those in power and bury their secrets far from the public eye, rather than as a mechanism for accountability. Those who are accused of fighting to bring transparency the shadowy world of the national security state and reveal information that is in the public interest are punished to the full extent of the law, while those who benefit from ever-increasing surveillance measures are protected at all costs,” say’s John Knefel, Cohost of Radio Dispatch.
“The bigger story is what they’ve done in this country to Jeremy Hammond, Bradley Manning, and what they have proposed to do to Julian Assange, and that really says that they’re going to come down as heavily as they can on people who expose government secrets, whistleblowers,”said Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The Jeremy Hammond Solidarity Network, as well as friends, family and supporters of Jeremy have issued a call to demand that Judge Preska explain her personal involvement with Statfor, to demand that Judge Preska immediately recuse herself from Jeremy Hammond’s case, to demand a judicial investigation into Judge Preska’s ethics violation, and to demand all charges against Hammond be dropped.
Hammond is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. He is not expected to take the stand until next year, but so far has been imprisoned for eight months without trial.
SPEAKERS AT THURSDAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE WILL INCLUDE:
Is an artist, activist, film maker, and the co-creator of the infamous Yes Men. The December 2011 hack of Stratfor reveled that Andy was being followed and surveilled by Stratfor at the request of Dow Chemical for his work with the Yes Men to support the victims of the 1984 Bhopal Gas disaster.
Is a journalist and cohost of Radio Dispatch! John recently covered the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. His writing has appeared in The Nation, Truthout, and Salon. John will be speaking about the ever-growing and pervasive practices of private intelligence outfits like Stratfor.