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Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison, Jeremy Hammond Uses Allocution to Give Consequential Statement Highlighting Global Criminal Exploits by FBI Handlers

Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison, Jeremy Hammond Uses Allocution to Give Consequential Statement Highlighting Global Criminal Exploits by FBI Handlers

[NEW YORK, NY]  Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old political activist, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to participating in the Anonymous hack into the computers of the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor).  The Ceremonial Courtroom at the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York was filled today with an outpouring of support by journalists, activists and other whistleblowers who see Jeremy Hammond’s actions as a form of civil disobedience, motivated by a desire to protest and expose the secret activities of private intelligence corporations.

The hearing opened with arguments as to what sections of the court record will remain redacted after sentencing. While Jeremy’s attorneys initially erred on the side of caution in previous memorandums and kept large pieces of the record redacted, both the defense and prosecution agreed this morning that many of the sections should now be made available for public view. The prosecution, however took stiff exception to portions of the court record being made public that indicate victims, specifically foreign governments, that Jeremy allegedly hacked under the direction of Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, the FBI informant at the helm of Jeremy’s alleged actions. Judge Preska ordered that the names of these foreign governments remain sealed.

Jeremy’s counsel, Sarah Kunstler, who is 9 months pregnant and due to give birth today, delivered a passionate testimonial as to the person that Jeremy is, and the need for people like Jeremy during this era of exponential changes in our socio-political landscape. (Read Sarah Kunstler’s complete argument HERE)  She was followed by co-counsel, Susan Kellman, who wept as she recalled her own experiences reading the hundreds of letters from supporters to the court detailing Jeremy Hammond’s unbridled selflessness and enthusiastic volunteerism.  She pointed out that it was this same selflessness that motivated Jeremy’s actions in this case.  She closed her testimony by underscoring that, “The centerpiece of our argument is a young man with high hopes and unbelievably laudable expectations in this world.”

Susan was followed by Jeremy Hammond himself, who gave a detailed, touching and consequential allocution to the court.  The following is Jeremy’s statement to the court.  We have redacted a portion [marked in red] upon the orders of Judge Preska.  While we believe the public has a right to know the redacted information therein, we refuse to publish information that could adversely effect Jeremy or his counsel.

JEREMY HAMMOND’S SENTENCING STATEMENT  |  11/15/2013

Good morning.

Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Jeremy Hammond and I’m here to be sentenced for hacking activities carried out during my involvement with Anonymous. I have been locked up at MCC for the past 20 months and have had a lot of time to think about how I would explain my actions.

Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize the work of the people who have supported me. I want to thank all the lawyers and others who worked on my case: Elizabeth Fink, Susan Kellman, Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler, Margaret Kunstler, and Grainne O’Neill. I also want to thank the National Lawyers Guild, the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee and Support Network, Free Anons, the Anonymous Solidarity Network, Anarchist Black Cross, and all others who have helped me by writing a letter of support, sending me letters, attending my court dates, and spreading the word about my case. I also want to shout out my brothers and sisters behind bars and those who are still out there fighting the power.

The acts of civil disobedience and direct action that I am being sentenced for today are in line with the principles of community and equality that have guided my life. I hacked into dozens of high profile corporations and government institutions, understanding very clearly that what I was doing was against the law, and that my actions could land me back in federal prison. But I felt that I had an obligation to use my skills to expose and confront injustice—and to bring the truth to light.

Could I have achieved the same goals through legal means? I have tried everything from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never mind the rights of it’s own citizens or the international community.

My introduction to politics was when George W. Bush stole the Presidential election in 2000, then took advantage of the waves of racism and patriotism after 9/11 to launch unprovoked imperialist wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. I took to the streets in protest naively believing our voices would be heard in Washington and we could stop the war. Instead, we were labeled as traitors, beaten, and arrested.

I have been arrested for numerous acts of civil disobedience on the streets of Chicago, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I used my computer skills to break the law in political protest. I was arrested by the FBI for hacking into the computer systems of a right-wing, pro-war group called Protest Warrior, an organization that sold racist t-shirts on their website and harassed anti-war groups. I was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the “intended loss” in my case was arbitrarily calculated by multiplying the 5000 credit cards in Protest Warrior’s database by $500, resulting in a total of $2.5 million.My sentencing guidelines were calculated on the basis of this “loss,” even though not a single credit card was used or distributed – by me or anyone else. I was sentenced to two years in prison.

While in prison I have seen for myself the ugly reality of how the criminal justice system destroys the lives of the millions of people held captive behind bars. The experience solidified my opposition to repressive forms of power and the importance of standing up for what you believe.

When I was released, I was eager to continue my involvement in struggles for social change. I didn’t want to go back to prison, so I focused on above-ground community organizing. But over time, I became frustrated with the limitations, of peaceful protest, seeing it as reformist and ineffective. The Obama administration continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, escalated the use of drones, and failed to close Guantanamo Bay.

Around this time, I was following the work of groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous. It was very inspiring to see the ideas of hactivism coming to fruition. I was particularly moved by the heroic actions of Chelsea Manning, who had exposed the atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. She took an enormous personal risk to leak this information – believing that the public had a right to know and hoping that her disclosures would be a positive step to end these abuses. It is heart-wrenching to hear about her cruel treatment in military lockup.

I thought long and hard about choosing this path again. I had to ask myself, if Chelsea Manning fell into the abysmal nightmare of prison fighting for the truth, could I in good conscience do any less, if I was able? I thought the best way to demonstrate solidarity was to continue the work of exposing and confronting corruption.

I was drawn to Anonymous because I believe in autonomous, decentralized direct action. At the time Anonymous was involved in operations in support of the Arab Spring uprisings, against censorship, and in defense of Wikileaks. I had a lot to contribute, including technical skills, and how to better articulate ideas and goals. It was an exciting time – the birth of a digital dissent movement, where the definitions and capabilities of hacktivism were being shaped.

I was especially interested in the work of the hackers of LulzSec who were breaking into some significant targets and becoming increasingly political. Around this time, I first started talking to Sabu, who was very open about the hacks he supposedly committed, and was encouraging hackers to unite and attack major government and corporate systems under the banner of Anti Security. But very early in my involvement, the other Lulzsec hackers were arrested, leaving me to break into systems and write press releases. Later, I would learn that Sabu had been the first one arrested, and that the entire time I was talking to him he was an FBI informant.

Anonymous was also involved in the early stages of Occupy Wall Street. I was regularly participating on the streets as part of Occupy Chicago and was very excited to see a worldwide mass movement against the injustices of capitalism and racism. In several short months, the “Occupations” came to an end, closed by police crackdowns and mass arrests of protestors who were kicked out of their own public parks. The repression of Anonymous and the Occupy Movement set the tone for Antisec in the following months – the majority of our hacks against police targets were in retaliation for the arrests of our comrades.

I targeted law enforcement systems because of the racism and inequality with which the criminal law is enforced. I targeted the manufacturers and distributors of military and police equipment who profit from weaponry used to advance U.S. political and economic interests abroad and to repress people at home. I targeted information security firms because they work in secret to protect government and corporate interests at the expense of individual rights, undermining and discrediting activists, journalists and other truth seekers, and spreading disinformation.

I had never even heard of Stratfor until Sabu brought it to my attention. Sabu was encouraging people to invade systems, and helping to strategize and facilitate attacks. He even provided me with vulnerabilities of targets passed on by other hackers, so it came as a great surprise when I learned that Sabu had been working with the FBI the entire time.

On December 4, 2011, Sabu was approached by another hacker who had already broken into Stratfor’s credit card database. Sabu, under the watchful eye of his government handlers, then brought the hack to Antisec by inviting this hacker to our private chatroom, where he supplied download links to the full credit card database as well as the initial vulnerability access point to Stratfor’s systems.

I spent some time researching Stratfor and reviewing the information we were given, and decided that their activities and client base made them a deserving target. I did find it ironic that Stratfor’s wealthy and powerful customer base had their credit cards used to donate to humanitarian organizations, but my main role in the attack was to retrieve Stratfor’s private email spools which is where all the dirty secrets are typically found.

It took me more than a week to gain further access into Stratfor’s internal systems, but I eventually broke into their mail server. There was so much information, we needed several servers of our own in order to transfer the emails. Sabu, who was involved with the operation at every step, offered a server, which was provided and monitored by the FBI. Over the next weeks, the emails were transferred, the credit cards were used for donations, and Stratfor’s systems were defaced and destroyed. Why the FBI would introduce us to the hacker who found the initial vulnerability and allow this hack to continue remains a mystery.

As a result of the Stratfor hack, some of the dangers of the unregulated private intelligence industry are now known. It has been revealed through Wikileaks and other journalists around the world that Stratfor maintained a worldwide network of informants that they used to engage in intrusive and possibly illegal surveillance activities on behalf of large multinational corporations.

After Stratfor, I continued to break into other targets, using a powerful “zero day exploit” allowing me administrator access to systems running the popular Plesk webhosting platform. Sabu asked me many times for access to this exploit, which I refused to give him. Without his own independent access, Sabu continued to supply me with lists of vulnerable targets. I broke into numerous websites he supplied, uploaded the stolen email accounts and databases onto Sabu’s FBI server, and handed over passwords and backdoors that enabled Sabu (and, by extension, his FBI handlers) to control these targets.

These intrusions, all of which were suggested by Sabu while cooperating with the FBI, affected thousands of domain names and consisted largely of foreign government websites, including those of  XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXX, XXXXXXXX, XXXXXXX and the XXXXXX XXXXXXX. In one instance, Sabu and I provided access information to hackers who went on to deface and destroy many government websites in XXXXXX. I don’t know how other information I provided to him may have been used, but I think the government’s collection and use of this data needs to be investigated.

Sketch from inside Judge Preska’s courtroom, by Molly Crabapple

The government celebrates my conviction and imprisonment, hoping that it will close the door on the full story. I took responsibility for my actions, by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?

The U.S. hypes the threat of hackers in order to justify the multi billion dollar cyber security industrial complex, but it is also responsible for the same conduct it aggressively prosecutes and claims to work to prevent. The hypocrisy of “law and order” and the injustices caused by capitalism cannot be cured by institutional reform but through civil disobedience and direct action. Yes I broke the law, but I believe that sometimes laws must be broken in order to make room for change.

In the immortal word of Frederick Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

This is not to say that I do not have any regrets. I realize that I released the personal information of innocent people who had nothing to do with the operations of the institutions I targeted. I apologize for the release of data that was harmful to individuals and irrelevant to my goals. I believe in the individual right to privacy – from government surveillance, and from actors like myself, and I appreciate the irony of my own involvement in the trampling of these rights. I am committed to working to make this world a better place for all of us. I still believe in the importance of hactivism as a form of civil disobedience, but it is time for me to move on to other ways of seeking change. My time in prison has taken a toll on my family, friends, and community. I know I am needed at home. I recognize that 7 years ago I stood before a different federal judge, facing similar charges, but this does not lessen the sincerity of what I say to you today.

It has taken a lot for me to write this, to explain my actions, knowing that doing so — honestly — could cost me more years of my life in prison. I am aware that I could get as many as 10 years, but I hope that I do not, as I believe there is so much work to be done.

STAY STRONG AND KEEP STRUGGLING!

To schedule interviews with Jeremy Hammond’s attorneys and supporters following today’s sentencing please contact Andy Stepanian, 631.291.3010, andy@sparrowmedia.net.

The Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee is a coalition of family members, activists, lawyers, and other supporters who are working together to protect free speech and to support Jeremy Hammond. The committee’s goal is to provide information to the public and the press, to organize events related to Jeremy’s case, and to support Jeremy while he is in jail.  For more information, please visit http://freejeremy.net.

Whistleblowers & Journalists to Support Jeremy Hammond at 11/15 Sentencing for Anonymous Hack Exposing Extralegal Corporate Surveillance by Stratfor

[NEW YORK, NY]  Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old political activist, will be sentenced Friday, November 15 at the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York [500 Pearl St, The Ceremonial Courtroom on the 9th Floor] after pleading guilty to participating in the Anonymous hack into the computers of the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). An outpouring of support by journalists, activists and other whistleblowers in the run-up to the sentencing hearing has focused on Jeremy Hammond’s actions as civil disobedience, motivated by a desire to protest and expose the secret activities of private intelligence corporations.

Jeremy Hammond’s attorneys have submitted a sentencing memorandum on his behalf asking for a sentence of time served, a call supported by 5,000 people in petitions hosted by Change.org and Demand Progress. Additionally, over 250 letters addressed to the Judge from friends, family, journalists, academics, the tech community, and prominent whistleblowers have been included with the memorandum. Among these is a letter cosigned by 17 editors and journalists representing international media outlets in fifteen countries with a combined audience of 500 million people.

VIEW EXCERPTS OF LETTERS OF SUPPORT HERE

Many of the supporters plan to be present at Mr. Hammond’s sentencing to voice their concern and to raise public awareness of the disproportionate sentences associated with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which grants greater protection to corporations than those it affords to individuals. Private companies like Stratfor account for 70 percent of the government intelligence budget and often operate without public scrutiny or government oversight.

The information released by Mr. Hammond for the first time gives the American people and others in the world a picture of the role that private intelligence corporations play in surveillance of legally and constitutionally protected activities and the activists involved. The Stratfor documents have given us the understanding that private intelligence companies may be a bigger problem for civil liberties than our own government and it is these companies that we ought to be suing as we pursue government accountability for surveillance,” said Michael Ratner, President Emeritus at The Center for Constitutional Rights.

In a letter of support for Mr. Hammond, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote: “My decision to go public with the Pentagon Papers was a difficult one. At my own risk, I released them, just as Jeremy Hammond has done. I believe the actions taken by Jeremy Hammond need to be viewed in a context that considers the profound consequences of private surveillance of political activists in the United States.”

“[Jeremy Hammond] performed an act of civil disobedience out of a deeply held belief that the people have a right to know what the government and unregulated corporations are doing behind closed doors against them,” wrote Jesselyn Radack, a whistleblower and former ethics adviser to the Department of Justice, in a letter of support for Jeremy. “He is a patriot who only sought to provide transparency and expose the surveillance crimes being perpetrated on the American people.”

A longtime social activist and proponent of ethical hacking, Jeremy has stated that he revealed the information about Stratfor because “people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors.”

Originally facing a sentence totaling more than 35 years and additional indictments in 12 other federal jurisdictions, Jeremy pled to a single count of conspiracy under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). He faces a maximum of ten years. Jeremy’s co-defendants from England and Ireland have received sentences ranging from probation to 30 months in prison and are not likely to be extradited to the US.

To speak to members of the defense committee or to some of the people who wrote letters to the Court on Mr. Hammond’s behalf, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.716.1953 or christina@fitzgibbonmedia.com.

The sentencing hearing for Jeremy Hammond is scheduled for November 15, 2013 at 10 AM at Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street,  in the Ceremonial Courtroom on the 9th floor. For interviews at the November 15 hearing, contact Andy Stepanian, 631.291.3010, andy@sparrowmedia.net.

The Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee is a coalition of family members, activists, lawyers, and other supporters who are working together to protect free speech and to support Jeremy Hammond. The committee’s goal is to provide information to the public and the press, to organize events related to Jeremy’s case, and to support Jeremy while he is in jail.  For more information, please visit http://freejeremy.net

Jeremy Hammond on Aaron Swartz & the Criminalization of Digital Dissent

Jeremy Hammond on Aaron Swartz & the Criminalization of Digital Dissent

[New York, NY] The following is a statement released today, February 20th, 2013, by Jeremy Hammond’s lawyers. Supporters and lawyers have announced that they will be holding a press conference and rally at the Federal Courthouse at 9:30am February 21st, 2013 details are available HERE.

The following is Jeremy Hammond in his own words, written from solitary confinement at The Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City:

The tragic death of internet freedom fighter Aaron Swartz reveals the government’s flawed “cyber security strategy” as well as its systematic corruption involving computer crime investigations, intellectual property law, and government/corporate transparency.

In a society supposedly based on principles of democracy and due process, Aaron’s efforts to liberate the internet, including free distribution of JSTOR academic essays, access to public court records on PACER, stopping the passage of SOPA/PIPA, and developing the Creative Commons, make him a hero, not a criminal. It is not the “crimes” Aaron may have committed that made him a target of federal prosecution, but his ideas – elaborated in his “Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto” – that the government has found so dangerous. The United States Attorney’s aggressive prosecution, riddled with abuse and misconduct, is what led to the death of this hero. This sad and angering chapter should serve as a wake up call for all of us to acknowledge the danger inherent in our criminal justice system.

Aaron’s case is part of the recent aggressive, politically-motivated expansion of computer crime law where hackers and activists are increasingly criminalized because of alleged “cyber-terrorist” threats. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, whose office is prosecuting me and my co-defendants in the Lulzsec indictment, has used alarmist rhetoric such as the threat of an imminent “Pearl Harbor like cyber attack” to justify these prosecutions. At the same time the government routinely trains and deploys their own hackers to launch sophisticated cyber attacks against the infrastructure of foreign countries, such as the Stuxnet and Flame viruses, without public knowledge, oversight, declarations of war, or consent from international authorities. DARPA, US Cyber Command, the NSA, and numerous federally-contracted private corporations openly recruit hackers to develop defensive and offensive capabilities and build Orwellian digital surveillance networks, designed not to enhance national security but to advance U.S. imperialism. They even attend and speak at hacker conferences, such as DEFCON, offer to bribe hackerspaces for their research, and created the insulting “National Civic Hacker Day” – efforts which should be boycotted or confronted every step of the way.

Aaron is a hero because he refused to play along with the government’s agenda, instead he used his brilliance and passion to create a more transparent society. Through the free software movement, open publishing and file sharing, and development of cryptography and anonymity technology, digital activists have revealed the poverty of neo-liberalism and intellectual property. Aaron opposed reducing everything to a commodity to be bought or sold for a profit.

The rise in effectiveness of, and public support for, movements like Anonymous and Wikileaks has led to an expansion of computer crime investigations – most importantly enhancements to 18 U.S.C § 1030, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Over the years the CFAA has been amended five times and has gone through a number of important court rulings that have greatly expanded what the act covers concerning “accessing a protected computer without authorization.” It is now difficult to determine exactly what conduct would be considered legal. The definition of a “protected computer” has been incrementally expanded to include any government or corporate computer in or outside the U.S. “Authorization,” not explicitly defined by the CFAA, has also been expanded to be so ambiguous that any use of a website, network, or PC that is outside of the interest, agenda, or contractual obligations of a private or government entity could be criminalized. In Aaron’s case and others the government has defined violating a service’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), Terms of Service (TOS), or End-User License Agreement (EULA) as illegal. Every time you sign up for a service like Gmail, Hotmail, or Facebook and click the “I agree” button that follows a long contract that no one ever reads, you could be prosecuted under the CFAA if you violate any of the terms.

The sheer number of everyday computer users who could be considered criminals under these broad and ambiguous definitions enables the politically motivated prosecution of anyone who voices dissent. The CFAA should be found unconstitutional under the void-for-vagueness doctrine of the due process clause. Instead, Congress proposed bills last year which would double the statutory maximum sentences and introduce mandatory minimum sentences, similar to the excessive sentences imposed in drug cases which have been widely opposed by many federal and state judges.

The “Operation Payback” case in San Jose, California is another miscarriage of justice where 16 suspected Anonymous members (including a 16 year old boy) allegedly participated in a denial-of-service action against PayPal in protest of it’s financial blockade of Wikileaks. Denial-of-service does not “exceed authorized access,” as it is virtually indistinguishable from standard web requests. It is more akin to an electronic sit-in protest, overloading the website’s servers making it incapable of serving legitimate traffic, than a criminal act involving stolen private information or destruction of servers. PayPal’s website was only slow or unavailable for a matter of hours, yet these digital activists face prison time of more that 10 years, $250,000 in fines, and felony convictions because the government wants to criminalize this form of internet protest and send a warning to would be Wikileaks supporters.

Another recent case is that of Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer, who last November was convicted under the CFAA. Andrew discovered that AT&T was publishing customer names and email addresses on it’s public-facing website, without password protection, encryption, or firewalls. Instead of acknowledging their own mistake in violating customer privacy, AT&T sought prison time for Andrew. Andrew has defended his actions saying, “We have not only a right as Americans to analyze things that corporations publish and make publicly accessible but perhaps a moral obligation to tell people about it.”

I am currently facing multiple computer hacking conspiracy charges due to my alleged involvement with Anonymous, LulzSec, and AntiSec, groups which have targeted and exposed corruption in government institutions and corporations such as Stratfor, The Arizona Department of Public Safety, and HB Gary Federal. My potential sentence is dramatically increased because the Patriot Act expanded the CFAA’s definition of “loss.” This allowed Stratfor to claim over 5 million dollars in damages, including the exorbitant cost of hiring outside credit protection agencies and “infosec” corporations, purchasing new servers, 1.6 million dollars in “lost potential revenue” for the time their website was down, and even the cost of a 1.3 million dollar settlement for a class action lawsuit filed against them. Coupled with use of “sophisticated means” and “affecting critical infrastructure” sentence enhancements, if convicted at trial I am facing a sentence of 30-years-to-life.

Dirty trial tactics and lengthy sentences are not anomalies but are part of a fundamentally flawed and corrupt two-tiered system of “justice” which seeks to reap profits from the mass incarceration of millions, especially people of color and the impoverished. The use of informants who cooperate in exchange for lighter sentences is not just utilized in the repressive prosecutions of protest movements and manufactured “terrorist” Islamophobic witch-hunts, but also in most drug cases, where defendants face some of the harshest sentences in the world.

For Aaron Swartz, himself facing 13 felony CFAA charges, it is likely that it was this intense pressure from relentless and uncompromising prosecutors, who, while being aware of Aaron’s psychological fragility, continued to demand prison time, that led to his untimely death.

Due to widespread public outrage, there is talk of congressional investigations into the CFAA. But since the same Congress had proposed increased penalties not even one year ago, any efforts at reform are unlikely to be more than symbolic. What is needed is not reform but total transformation; not amendments but abolition. Aaron is a hero to me because he did not wait for those in power to realize his vision and change their game, he sought to change the game himself, and he did so without fear of being labeled a criminal and imprisoned by a backwards system of justice.

We the people demand free and equal access to information and technology. We demand transparency and accountability from governments and big corporations, and privacy for the masses from invasive surveillance networks.

The government will never be forgiven. Aaron Swartz will never be forgotten.

Get involved with the Jeremy’s Support Network at http://FreeHammond.org
On Facebook at facebook.com/supporthammond
On Twitter @Free_Hammond

Please consider mailing a letter, book, or postcard of support to Jeremy while in prison:

Jeremy Hammond – #18729-424
Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row,
New York, NY 10007

Activists to Hold Press Conference & Rally this Thursday to Demand Stratfor-Linked Judge Recuse Herself from Trial of Jailed Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond

Activists to Hold Press Conference & Rally this Thursday to Demand Stratfor-Linked Judge Recuse Herself from Trial of Jailed Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond

[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).

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.

WHAT: Press Conference & Rally
WHERE: Foley Square, NYC (At Center & Pearl)
WHEN: Thursday, November 29, 1:00pm
INFO: Jeremy Hammond Support | Facebook RSVP

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.

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:

GIDEON ORION OLIVER
Gideon Oliver is the President of the National Lawyers Guild and a celebrated champion of social justice efforts in the New York metropolitan area.

EMILY KUNSTLER
Emily Kunstler is an activist and a documentary filmmaker. She is currently serving as a paralegal on Jeremy Hammond’s legal team.

ANDY BICHLBAUM
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.

NATALIE WHALBERG
Is an organizer of Occupy Chicago and a close friend of Jeremy Hammond, Natalie will be speaking about the importance of prisoner support and solidarity.

JOHN KNEFEL
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.