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Government: Jeremy Hammond is "Computer Hacking Recidivist,' Sentence Him to 10 Years in Prison

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Reprinted from dissenter.firedoglake.com

An activist, who pled guilty to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) while hacking into the private intelligence firm, Stratfor, in May, will be sentenced in a federal court in New York tomorrow.

Jeremy Hammond worked with Anonymous to hack into Stratfor and release information from the firm. The material was eventually by published by WikiLeaks.


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While uncharged, he also admitted in a statement after he pled guilty to one count of violating the CFAA, that he had hacked into other websites including "military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies." He said he did this because he believed "people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors."

The government has submitted its sentencing memo to the judge and requested that Hammond be given the maximum punishment possible in the case, 10 years in prison.

"Hammond is a hacking recidivist who, over the course of almost a year, launched cyber attacks that harmed businesses, individuals, and governments; caused losses of between $1 million and $2.5 million; affected thousands of people; and threatened the safety of the public and law enforcement officers and their families," according to the memo.

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Prosecutors cite a prior conviction in 2006, when he was sentenced to 24 months in prison for "federal computer hacking," as evidence he was undaunted by his punishment because he later began a "sustained campaign during which he executed cyber attacks against the websites and computer networks of scores of victims."

The memo goes on to accuse Hammond of having "malicious and callous contempt for those with whom he disagreed, particularly anyone remotely related to law enforcement not "concern[ed] with both transparency and privacy.'"

It highlights how the "names, physical addresses, credit card data and email addresses of thousands of clients of Stratfor were released and disseminated worldwide, resulting in approximately $700,000 of unauthorized charges on those accounts and cost more than $1 million to Stratfor to repair."

The damage to Stratfor was insurmountable for the firm, but it should not go unmentioned that the FBI had an informant, Hector Xavier Monsegur ("Sabu"), involved in the operation to go into Stratfor's network and obtain files for release. FBI officials claim they did not sit idly by and let this operation unfold as Stratfor was infiltrated, but they did apparently instruct or authorize Monsegur to have all the data obtained from the hack placed on one of the FBI's own computers.

Many have believed that the FBI thought it might be able to get to WikiLeaks through this operation if they did not disrupt it, which the FBI denies. The agency did not stop the transfer of material to WikiLeaks because it did not plan for the fact that those involved, like Hammond, would keep files on "their own servers" for transmitting to the media organization later.

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The sentencing memo submitted actually accuses Hammond of "deflecting" blame or trying to "obfuscate his criminal activity" by claiming in his sentencing submission that "Sabu" participated in the hack, instead of gathering information for law enforcement, by "providing servers for the storage of information and creating chatrooms to facilitate discussions."

This claim mischaracterizes the CW's role. As explained in the Complaint, the CW [informant], at the direction of the FBI, provided to Hammond and his co-conspirators a server, which Hammond and his co-conspirators used to store the data they stole from Stratfor. As a result of the FBI's control of this server, the FBI was able to mitigate the harm by, for example, notifying credit card companies about the compromised cards. The FBI's control of access to this server also would, and did, provide substantial evidence as to Hammond's identity and role in the attack. Similarly, the CW created chat rooms for Hammond and his co-conspirators at the direction of the FBI, which monitored the chats, gaining valuable intelligence about the hack which it used to notify Stratfor and credit card companies as the hack developed, as well as powerful evidence of Hammond's criminal activity.

Ahead of Hammond's sentencing, Hammond's lawyers collected 265 letters of support that call for a "sentence of time-served." They were written by friends, family, academics, journalists, individuals from the tech community and notable whistleblowers.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said in a letter, "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." Jesselyn Radack, a Justice Department whistleblower, said Hammon "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." Professor Gabriella Coleman, who focuses on computer hacking, electronic dissent and Anonymous, said there as no doubt in her mind that Hammond's actions had been "politically principled and constitute civil disobedience." The Yes Men said, "It is distressing to us that he faces such repercussions for taking actions that were only meant to bring positive change."

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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