Tag Archives: wikileaks

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

 

Icelandic Parliamentarian, Birgitta Jonsdottir, will Visit NYC in Support of Bradley Manning Despite DOJ Grand Jury Investigation Into Her, Wikileaks

Icelandic Parliamentarian, Birgitta Jonsdottir, will Visit NYC in Support of Bradley Manning Despite DOJ Grand Jury Investigation Into Her, Wikileaks

[NEW YORK, NY]  On Friday, April 5, 2013 Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir will host an evening of art and dialogue in support of jailed Iraq war whistleblower, Pfc. Bradley Manning, at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Sq. South MAP). A 6pm benefit informal art auction & film screening will be followed by a panel discussion at 8pm.

The panel discussion will feature Jonsdottir in conversation with Alexa O’Brien and Kevin Gosztola, journalists who each have provided extensive coverage of the Manning pretrial proceedings at Ft. Meade, MD, along with Peter Hart, a critic with the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. The panel will be moderated by Sam Seder, host of the political talk show, The Majority Report.

Jonsdottir’s visit comes on the heels of a February 2013 revelation by Iceland’s Justice Minister that, in August 2011, Icelandic lawmakers expelled several FBI agents from the country. An Alexandria, VA Grand Jury Probe is seeking information about Jonsdottir, among others, in relation to Wikileaks, its developers and managers, and Pfc. Bradley Manning. Despite advice from the Icelandic Government not to visit the US until the closure of the Grand Jury, Jonsdottir has chosen to schedule her visit amidst this still-active Grand Jury, citing the urgency of Pfc. Manning’s plight. As Manning’s court-martial trial is scheduled to begin on June 3, 2013, he faces a potential life sentence, if convicted on all counts.

Jonsdottir was instrumental in facilitating Pfc. Manning’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, both in 2012 and again in 2013, with wider support. “I nominated Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace prize for the first time in 2012 ,with a couple of fellow MPs from Iceland,” said Jonsdottir, “In 2013, I did it again with the same MPs, members from the European Parliament and a former Minster from Tunisia. It is very encouraging to see the growing support for Manning around the world, but most importantly, within the USA.”

Jonsdottir is also suing president Barack Obama over the indefinite detention powers within § 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In September 2012, Judge Katherine Forrest of New York’s Southern District Court enjoined the President from using § 1021(b)(2) in a landmark ruling in favor of Jonsdottir and six other plaintiffs, citing that their work in activism, academia, and journalism could potentially put them at risk of detention under § 1021(b)(2). The Obama administration is currently appealing Judge Forrest’s ruling.

 Large-format prints of single frames from the now infamous “Collateral Murder’” video (disclosed by Manning, published by Wikileaks and co-produced by Jonsdottir) depicting the killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists by US Apache gunfire, will be displayed and sold in benefit of Pfc. Manning.

Bradley Manning Print by Molly Crabapple  Limited-edition 17″ x 22″ giclée prints by celebrated social justice artist and illustrator, Molly Crabapple, will also be sold as part of the benefit. For those who want to support the benefit but cannot attend the New York City event on April 5th.  Crabapple’s prints are currently available online to bid upon HERE.  The first 200 highest bids will receive these prints.

The event aims to raise awareness about Manning, now 25 years old, who recently explained in a court statement that he leaked the documents as an act of conscience; to uncover U.S. abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan and to help people in America better understand wars abroad. The event also hopes to raise money for Bradley’s defense fund, a fund for the families affected by the massacre captured in the “Collateral Murder” video , and money for Ethan McCord, the soldier who helped save the children wounded in the attack.

For a list of additional events in NYC with Birgitta Jonsdottir click HERE. To RSVP to Friday’s event via Facebook click HERE.

 

To arrange an interview with Brigitta Jonsdottir while she is in the USA, please contact Andy Stepanian via email at andy@sparrowmedia.net or by phone at 631.291.3010

 

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