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Chicago hacktivist Jeremy Hammond took a plea deal on Tuesday in the case against him involving the hack of intelligence firm Stratfor. Hammond was arrested in the roundup of LulzSec members last year for hacking into the company and leaking emails and other data to Wikileaks. The 28-year-old hacker made a non-cooperating plea to one violation under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), reports Natasha Lennard at Salon. Hammond could face up to 10 years in federal prison, where he has already been for 15 months, much of which has been spent in solitary confinement.
In a statement published on the Free Jeremy Hammond website, he wrote:
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.
The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement: “While he billed himself as fighting for an anarchist cause, in reality, Jeremy Hammond caused personal and financial chaos for individuals whose identities and money he took and for companies whose businesses he decided he didn’t like.”
While the state maintains that Hammond’s crime was over businesses and money, and seem to believe his incarceration and whatever sentence will be handed down are well deserved, supporters and others point out that the activist nature of his actions made him a target. Many have highlighted Hammond’s harsh treatment in prison and length of wait for trial as one example. As Kevin Gosztola points out on Firedoglake, the sentences of three Lulzsec members in Britain were quite light. Mustafa al-Bassam received 300 hours of community service, while Ryan Ackroyd and Jake Davis were sentenced to 15 months and one year in jail. Gosztola goes on to say:
What happened today is indicative of how justice increasingly seems to work. One is over-charged and made to experience a level of pretrial punishment before being convicted of any crimes so that prosecutors can ensure the case is won.
While Hammond admitted his crime, he still stands behind his actions. “I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors,” he said towards the end of his statement.
Reprinted with permission from the Chicagoist.
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