Barrett Brown will finally be sentenced today

January 21, 2015 | 23:38
Barrett Brown will finally be sentenced today
Barrett Brown will finally be sentenced today
Press release > Concluding a controversial case that has dragged on for over two years, on Thursday January 22nd at 9AM CST morning the jailed journalist Barrett Brown will go before a federal judge to receive his sentence. He faces up to 8.5 years in prison.

Sentencing will take place at the Earle Cabell Federal Building, 1100 Commerce St., downtown Dallas, TX. Courtroom of Judge Samuel A. Lindsay, on the 15th floor, room #1546

Originally indicted on charges which carried a maximum sentence of up to 105 years, some of which were later dropped, last year Brown made a plea deal, agreeing to plea guilty to: (1) transmitting a threat in interstate commerce (2) accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer and (3) interference with the execution of a search warrant and aid and abet. In simple terms, this breaks down to uploading YouTube videos that contained unfortunate statements, efforts to redact sensitive e-mails that had been procured by hackers, and hiding laptops in a kitchen cabinet.

Brown originally landed on the radar of the FBI through his journalistic activities with a crowd-sourced investigation called Project PM, which then focused on analyzing leaked e-mails from HBGary, and other aspects of the private intelligence industry.

Before becoming involved as an advocate for Anonymous, a hacktivist collective which generally promotes transparency, Brown had a notable career as a humor writer, skeptic, and political satirist. The extreme actions of the DOJ including unnecessary levels of secrecy and chilling abuse of the due process system for intimidation and retaliation, which has been detailed at length in the press, has prompted an outcry from press freedom groups and advocacy organizations.

The sentencing hearing has been delayed four times, in addition to several continuances in the case. Last December 16th he appeared before the same court while the government and his defense battled over exhibits, Brown's alleged proximity to hacking activities, and witness testimony from an FBI agent as well as reporter Quinn Norton. The judge then decided to reconvene the hearing in another month.

In addition to potential arguments concerning a hyperlinking allegation, which has been revisited as supposed “relevant conduct” to his sentencing and is still very much at contention, in court Thursday Brown is expected to deliver a candid allocution statement, which will be one of his first opportunities to speak openly about the prosecution.

The Department of Justice absurdly maintains Brown knew that a link he copy & pasted contained stolen credit card numbers, despite the fact that he asked “What exactly is in that download?” after copying it, despite the fact that he was only interested in Stratfor's e-mails, and despite the fact that others in the chat had stated that the link contained e-mails, all of which has been omitted from the government's most recent filing. Moreover, Brown had criticized hackers for leaking personal information, he never even opened the file, and the DOJ is unable to prove that his sharing of the link was the cause of any specific fraud. But this allegation and the unrelated losses suffered by cardholders might be used to enhance his sentence dramatically.

The guidelines, as well as comparisons to others' cases involving the same statutes, strongly suggest the conclusion that Brown should receive a sentence of time served, or 30 months, which is what has been requested by his attorneys.

The director of Brown's legal defense fund, Kevin Gallagher, said: “My friend Barrett is more than ready to receive his sentence. Every journalist in the world should be paying attention to what happens here, because it affects them directly. We're hoping that he receives time served. But as I've said, he will continue to do what he does best, regardless of what happens tomorrow.”

Please follow this Twitter list for people that will be live-tweeting from the hearing. Also check our website and Tumblr for a public copy of Brown's sentencing statement after the hearing. Here's a FAQ about his charges for anyone new to the case.

You can donate to the Barrett Brown defense fund here.

This is a press release of Free Barrett Brown

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