Tag Archives: lulzsec

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 Pleads Guilty to Stratfor Leak, Faces Harsh Sentence for Online Protest: Press Release & Jeremy’s Statement

Jeremy Hammond Pleads Guilty to Stratfor Leak, Faces Harsh Sentence for Online Protest: Press Release & Jeremy’s Statement

[New York, NY]  In federal court this morning, Internet activist Jeremy Hammond pleaded guilty to publicizing internal emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor through Wikileaks.

Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir reads a message of solidarity to Jeremy Hammond outside of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City 

Hammond pleaded guilty as part of a non-cooperating plea agreement to one violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which carries up to ten years in prison.  A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for September 6, 2013.  He has been jailed for 15 months without bail at the Manhattan Correctional Center in New York City, has been denied family visits, and held for weeks in solitary confinement.

“Jeremy has taken responsibility for what he’s done, but he should not face such a harsh sentence for an act of protest from which he did not personally benefit,” said Hammond’s twin brother, Jason Hammond. “I’m glad he’s moved one step closer to freedom but today I’m asking for the judge to consider a sentence appropriate to what is nothing other than a non-violent political protest.”

Jason Hammond is circulating an online petition calling for Jeremy to be sentenced to time served and released.  You can read & sign the petition at Change.org HERE.

The Stratfor leak was carried out by the online activist group LulzSec, an off-shoot of Anonymous, with the participation of an FBI informant.

The Stratfor emails provided an important source for journalists, spurring articles in dozens of major news outlets around the world. Included among the leaked internal documents were millions of emails that exposed Stratfor’s wide-ranging spying activities, including surveillance of Bhopal activists at the behest of Dow Chemical, of PETA on behalf of Coca-Cola, and of Occupy Wall Street under contract to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“Corporate-government surveillance is one of the most rapidly expanding threats to civil liberties today,” said Abi Hassen, mass defense coordinator for the National Lawyers Guild. “The Stratfor leak is a glimpse into a secret world of corporate spying that is incompatible with this country’s democratic values. Today’s hearing should be a springboard for further investigation of Stratfor, not an opportunity to condemn a young man to a decade in prison for his political activism.”

On May 14, three British Internet activists received prison sentences of two years to 32 months for their involvement in LulzSec leaks. All three are likely to be released on parole after serving half of their sentences. A fourth is free on a suspended sentence, as are two Irish men whom prosecutors declined to charge

A STATEMENT FROM JEREMY HAMMOND REGARDING HIS PLEA AGREEMENT

May 28, 2013

Today I pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This was a very difficult decision. I hope this statement will explain my reasoning. I believe in the power of the truth. In keeping with that, I do not want to hide what I did or to shy away from my actions. This non-cooperating plea agreement frees me to tell the world what I did and why, without exposing any tactics or information to the government and without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of other activists on and offline.

During the past 15 months I have been relatively quiet about the specifics of my case as I worked with my lawyers to review the discovery and figure out the best legal strategy. There were numerous problems with the government’s case, including the credibility of FBI informant Hector Monsegur. However, because prosecutors stacked the charges with inflated damages figures, I was looking at a sentencing guideline range of over 30 years if I lost at trial. I have wonderful lawyers and an amazing community of people on the outside who support me. None of that changes the fact that I was likely to lose at trial. But, even if I was found not guilty at trial, the government claimed that there were eight other outstanding indictments against me from jurisdictions scattered throughout the country. If I had won this trial I would likely have been shipped across the country to face new but similar charges in a different district. The process might have repeated indefinitely. Ultimately I decided that the most practical route was to accept this plea with a maximum of a ten year sentence and immunity from prosecution in every federal court.

Now that I have pleaded guilty it is a relief to be able to say that I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites. Those others included military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies. I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.

I have already spent 15 months in prison. For several weeks of that time I have been held in solitary confinement. I have been denied visits and phone calls with my family and friends. This plea agreement spares me, my family, and my community a repeat of this grinding process.

I would like to thank all of my friends and supporters for their amazing and ongoing gestures of solidarity. Today I am glad to shoulder the responsibility for my actions and to move one step closer to daylight.

Jeremy Hammond

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. For more information about the case and Jeremy Hammond, visit www.freejeremy.net

Sentencing of UK Lulzsec Hacktivists Highlights Disparity in Sentence Guidelines as US Activist Jeremy Hammond Still Faces 42 Years in Federal Prison

Sentencing of UK Lulzsec Hacktivists Highlights Disparity in Sentence Guidelines as US Activist Jeremy Hammond Still Faces 42 Years in Federal Prison

[New York & London] Three English co-defendants who plead guilty to being members of the Lulzsec hacktivist group were today sentenced by a UK court. Ryan Acroyd, the most technically experienced of the three, received the longest sentence – he will spend 15 months in prison.

By contrast, their American co-defendant Jeremy Hammond has already spent 14 months awaiting trial in a federal case that carries charges that could result in up to 42 years of prison time – a virtual life sentence for the 28 year old. Hammond has been denied bail or access to family members.

“It’s a disturbing commentary on the U.S. criminal justice system that Jeremy Hammond, a young activist who is an asset to his community, will spend longer in pre-trial detention for his alleged participation in these online protests than any of his international codefendants will when they have fully served their sentences,” said National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Heidi Boghosian.

The three online activists, Ryan Ackroyd and Jake Davis will be imprisoned for 15 months, and one year, respectively – al-Bassam will not see jail time, but will have to complete 300 hours of community service.

The U.K.’s sentencing structure allows people convicted of crimes to serve out the second half of their sentences on “licence,” the equivalent of the United States’ parole, meaning that Ackroyd’s and Davis’ 30 month and two year sentences will result in the prison times mentioned above. The three have been free on bail since their arrests in March 2012. Two Irish Internet activists accused of participating in LulzSec have gone free without charge in Ireland, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.

The acts the English activists plead guilty to—gaining access to and disseminating information from corporate and government websites—mirror the charges facing Hammond. Hammond is accused of publicizing internal emails of the private spying agency Stratfor through the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. The emails contained many revelations, including Stratfor’s spying on Bhopal activists at the behest of Dow Chemical and monitoring Occupy Wall Street for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

United States attorneys charged Hammond with five felony counts, including three under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Each of the CFAA counts carries a ten-year maximum prison sentence. Written in 1984 and long criticized for being outdated and vague, the CFAA has seen increasing use against information activists in an effort to criminalize everything from the sharing of links to violating terms of service agreements. The most highly publicized CFAA case involved 26 year-old information activist Aaron Swartz, who was threatened with decades in prison for downloading freely available documents from the academic database JSTOR. Swartz took his own life earlier this year.

Jeremy Hammond & Jason Hammond

“Jeremy is a gifted person who cares deeply about the world,” said Hammond’s twin brother, Jason Hammond. “My family is shocked at the treatment he has received by the Department of Justice. Jeremy is accused of committing a non-violent crime yet we are forbidden from seeing him or speaking to him on the phone, he has been denied bail and he’s facing what amounts to a life sentence.”

For more information on Jeremy Hammond please visit http://FreeJeremy.net. Press requests should be directed to Abi Hassen of the Jeremy Hammond Support Committee at Press@FreeJeremy.net

 

We Must Resist ‘This Gross Inversion of Democracy’ Recap of the 11/29 Press Conference in Support of Jeremy Hammond

[New York, NY] On November 29th, 2012, activists, journalists and attorneys gathered for a press conference outside of New York’s Federal Courthouse in support of jailed activist Jeremy Hammond. In a November 20th, 2012 hearing U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska denied bail to the 27-year-old Chicago activist accused of hacking into the private intelligence firm Stratfor and releasing information to Wikileaks, and notified him that, if convicted, he could face 37 years-to-life in prison (transcript).

A November 22nd, 2012 communique from hackers revealed that Judge Preska, herself, had connections to a law firm the government considers “victims” in the Hammond case. The independently verified communique revealed that Preska’s 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). Court reporters have confirmed to The Sparrow Project that, Judge Preska was made aware of the published connection between her husband & Stratfor and that her husband’s Stratfor-related information was published by Wikileaks, they went on to indicate that Preska was aware of the connection long before the November 22nd communique. Moreover, Preska indicated that this personal connection to the Hammond case “would not effect her ability to be impartial.”

At the November 29th press conference, John Knefel, a journalist and cohost of Radio Dispatch highlighted Preska’s distinct conflict of interest and went on to reveal to the press in attendance that Preska, herself, was in fact formerly an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP. While Preska’s personal information was not unearthed by the hack or released by Wikileaks, this prior professional association with government-named victims in the Hammond case underscores her inability to preside over the Hammond case in the impartial manner awarded to him by the constitution.

Activists are calling on Preska to recuse herself before formal motions are filed by Hammond’s attorneys on Monday, December 3, 2012. On Monday, attorneys for Hammond will file an official motion for Preska’s recusal as well as a motion for a new bail hearing.

The Sparrow Project will be collecting statements of support for Jeremy Hammond and posting them for free use below. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Chris Hedges, as well as other prominent activists and journalists have joined the call for a fair trial for Jeremy Hammond. Statements of support can be emailed to info@sparrowmedia.net

3 SIMPLE WAYS TO HELP JEREMY HAMMOND

1.) WRITE JEREMY!
Send Jeremy a letter, postcard, or even a book (needs to be mailed directly from publisher or seller like Amazon) to help brighten his day while incarcerated. Letters & books can be mailed to…

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

2.) DONATE TO JEREMY’S LEGAL DEFENSE!
You can make a credit card donation to Jeremy’s legal defense fund (controlled by his family) via wepay.com at THIS LINK

3.) DONATE A TWEET OR FACEBOOK POST!
With this simple online tool you can donate one tweet (or Facebook post) a day to our efforts. The Sparrow Project will publish statements of support for Jeremy (like the ones below) from influential figures. Your donated posts will help us widen the audience that is exposed to this important story. Simply visit THIS LINK and click donate!


STATEMENT FROM CHRIS HEDGES

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
The security and surveillance state is creating a hermetically closed system of power. It is doing this by rewriting laws to subvert the Constitution and grant itself the ability to criminalize all forms of dissent. The FISA Amendment Act, the Authorization to Use Military Force Act, the enhanced terrorism laws, the misuse of the Espionage Act to silence whistle blowers, and the National Defense Authorization Act, section 1021, which empowers the government to use the military to seize and detain U.S. citizens, strip citizens of due process and hold them in indefinite detention, are chilling examples of a new America, an America where liberty and freedom have become a hollow cliché.

Nearly all of the government’s actions and decisions, many of which violate our most cherished civil liberties and defy the Constitutional call for a separation of powers, are now effectively hidden from the public. These decisions are beyond the scrutiny of the press or the judiciary. At the same time, we as citizens have no privacy left. The government has handed to itself the capacity to carry out the warrantless wiretapping, monitoring and eves dropping of tens of millions of citizens. Our personal data, correspondent, histories, employment records, private activities, phone logs, emails exchanges, travel and political views are stored in perpetuity in government supercomputers. We are the most monitored, spied on, photographed, listened to and watched population in human history. Our security and surveillance state now dwarfs the cruder forms of internal control of past totalitarian states, from Nazi Germany to the Stasi state in East Germany to Stalin’s Soviet Union. Anyone, including whistle blowers at the National Security Agency or the CIA, who attempts to bring to light government crimes, as we have seen with the Obama administration’s use of the Espionage Act six times to silence dissidents within the system, is hounded, persecuted and faces the possibility of long prison terms.

Those who have the skills and capacity to electronically enter these closed systems of information terrify the state. They are treated not as criminals but as terrorists. They are denied fair trials. They are imprisoned in conditions that can only be described as torture. They are subject to murky statutes and laws that make a mockery of democracy and have no place in an open society. And the state, when it confronts those who have this capacity, uses everything at its disposal to destroy these opponents.

We are not asking today for very much. We are asking for a fair hearing in a court of law. We are asking that Jeremy Hammond be permitted to present his case before a judge who does not have a personal involvement in his alleged activities, a personal involvement that will clearly prejudice the outcome. Hammond has enough stacked against him already. It at least deserves a chance at justice.

It is a sad commentary on U.S. society that it is we, the dissidents, who call for the rule of law while the power elite and the organs of the state distort and subvert the rule of law. Our society has been turned upside down. We need to resist in every way possible this gross inversion of democracy not only for Hammond but, finally, for ourselves.

Chris Hedges
Princeton, New Jersey
November 29, 2012

 


STATEMENT FROM SAIF ANSARI

Media Relations for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
The Wikileaks are telling in that, despite repeated assertions that it has no outstanding liability for Bhopal, the corporate giant Dow Chemical decided to hire the intelligence and surveillance company Stratfor to spy on and monitor Bhopal activists from 2004 to 2011. In fact, as late as March Dow CEO Andrew Liveris argued that ongoing outrage about Bhopal absolutely did not pose a threat to Dow. But If, as Dow holds, Bhopal is a nonissue and all grievances are settled, why did Dow enlist Stratfor to, e.g. gather information about the current and former staff of the ICJB, document the ICJB’s online activity, as well as that of the UK-based Bhopal Medical Appeal, and report events and programs held by the Yes Men? The global outcry over Dow’s sponsorship of the 2012 Summer Olympics and subsequent public relations fiasco confirmed that, on the contrary, the issue of Bhopal remains more important than ever. If anything the leaks show that however much Dow tries to downplay Bhopal in public, that behind closed doors it is very much concerned about it.

Wikileaks released on February 27th reveal that Dow hired Stratfor, a private US company, to spy on and monitor activists who campaign for justice for the 1984 Bhopal, India gas disaster, from July 2004 to December 2011. They include emails between Dow and Stratfor that document, in the form of regular updates, the identities of current and former staff of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, emails exchanged on the ICJB public listserv, and ICJB conference programs and schedules, as well as tweets, Facebook posts and press releases by the UK Bhopal Medical Appeal. Also recorded are dates and locations of speaking events and film screenings by the Yes Men, who in 2004 as part of a hoax impersonated Dow on TV and accepted responsibility for the disaster.

Dow used Stratfor to monitor coverage of Bhopal in the news as well, both in India and abroad, in connection with the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, of which Dow is a sponsor, actions held around the anniversary of the disaster, such as last year’s “Rail Roko” action in Bhopal, and comparisons between Bhopal and the BP oil spill. Stratfor also monitored developments in ongoing court cases in India and in the US concerning Bhopal. Throughout Strafor meticulously recorded whether Dow’s relation to Bhopal was portrayed in a negative light or not in the media.

Granted, the intelligence rounded up by Stratfor is not secret: it is all public knowledge, available, e.g., on the ICJB website and public listserv, and can be collected in the main by anyone with competence enough to use Facebook, RSS feeds and Google Reader. But for a company that vehemently denies responsibility for the disaster (which in 1984 killed tens of thousands, injured and afflicted with permanent illnesses many times more, and continues to, via the contamination of drinking water in around the disaster site) and argues that all past grievances are settled, Dow sure is concerned. Why contract Stratfor if Bhopal is a nonissue?

Is it because, contra Dow, both US and Indian courts continue to debate Dow’s liability? That in 2011 the Indian supreme court produced a curative petition, in an effort to secure just compensation for the victims, more than the meager amount allotted to them in 1999? Is it because, against Dow’s hand-waving and nay-saying to the contrary, citizens the world over are outraged that Dow, responsible for not only Bhopal, but for dioxin poisoning in Midland, Michigan, the production of napalm in the Vietnam War, and the second greatest amount of toxic waste production in the US, is a sponsor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, allegedly the greenest yet? Is it because coverage of Bhopal in the news threatens Dow, against Andrew Liveris, who in a recent interview denied that it did? Or is it because, at bottom, Dow refuses to acknowledge responsibility for the worst industrial disaster in history, and is determined to evade justice for as long as it can?

The ICJB welcomes Dow’s interest in Bhopal, however disingenuous. But rather than collect intelligence on activists, Dow should use its time, money and resources to instead carry out justice for Bhopal once and for all, to wit, acceptance of responsibility for the disaster, just compensation the victims, and clean-up of the disaster site. In the meanwhile the ICJB reiterates its commitment to Bhopal, and pledges to campaign for justice, in the face of Dow’s wiles and efforts to evade it.

 


STATEMENT FROM ANDY BICHLBAUM

Cofounder of The Yes Men!
Whoever was responsible for the release of the Stratfor emails, i want to thank him or her from the bottom of my heart. Whoever released these emails performed a function that’s an integral part of democracy, as surely as voting or running for public office.
Whether through civil disobedience or investigative reporting, which this is sort of in-between, exposing evildoing is, indeed, an integral part of democracy, that we utterly depend on.

There are many ways to expose evildoing and fight against it. In Bhopal, a number of folks have been doing it for 28 years, ever since ever since a chemical plant in their city exploded in 1984, killing 3000 in one night and 20,000 more across the years. Their main target is the Dow Chemical company, the company ultimately responsible for the disaster. To try to hold Dow accountable, the activists there have gone on hunger strikes, marches from Bhopal to delhi, and so on. They’ve had a lot of success getting attention for it in India, and have recently gotten the Indian government to reopen long-closed investigations.

Their real target, though, is Dow. And since Dow has no legal recourse against these activists, can’t stop them – they’ve spent large amounts of money to hire Stratfor to spy on their victims in Bhopal, to find out what moves their victims might make next.

No one would have found out about this sick situation if there hadn’t been this leak of millions of emails, of which Jeremy is accused.

Whoever did this leak exposed a lot of other corporate wrongdoing too – Stratfor was also spying on Occupy, PETA, Wikileaks, Anonymous… oh, and the Yes Men.

Yes, us. They were spying on us because in 2004, we joined the Bhopal activists in trying to shame Dow into providing redress for the 1984 disaster. We set up a fake Dow website and got ourselves invited by the BBC to speak on the 20th anniversary of the disaster as Dow. We announced to the world that we, Dow, were going to compensate the victims, clean up the site, and basically do everything that Dow should.

The world loved the announcement – but the market punished Dow by cutting billions off its stock value. There was an enormous amount of press, and millions of people found out about Dow’s responsibility for the world’s biggest industrial disaster.

Publicly, Dow said nothing. Privately, they paid Stratfor lots of money to spy on us.

That’s very sinister – but it’s also very flattering. It means that Dow and other companies see us – and the Bhopal victims, and Occupy – as a threat. A threat that can actually change things. Which it can – maybe not with each action, but cumulatively. Thanks to the activists in Bhopal, and the Occupy movement, and the millions of activists who are fighting in their own ways to bring evildoers to their knees… slowly but surely, inexorably, all these people are bringing democracy to America, just as it’s always happened.

That’s kind of what we Yes Men learned when we connected with the Occupy movement, who Stratfor also spied on, and discovered that all the activism, that sometimes seems pointless, actually does have a great effect: the Occupy movement, for example, itself the product of so much activism before it, profoundly shaped the presidential election, and continues to have even profounder effects.

The bad guys know this. And they should also know that as long companies like Dow fight people, people will fight back. As long as companies like Stratfor fight in extra-legal, unethical ways to keep tabs on those fighting for positive change, they can expect to be brought down again and again and again no matter how hard they try to put the lid on it, no matter who they try to put in jail. (you can read the full text of Andy’s Statement HERE)