The US government yesterday motioned to dismiss 11 of the 12 the 12 criminal charges against hacktivist journalist Barrett Brown.
The journalist who has already spent a year in jail, was charged with sharing a link to information stolen from Austin, Texas private intelligence company Stratfor on the IRC channel. The hack was part of Project PM, a crowd sourced investigation into the digital surveillance apparatus of the U.S government and others. The actual hacker, Jeremy Hammond, pled guilty and has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment.
Of the 12 federal charges Brown faced relating to device fraud and aggravated identity theft, only one now stands.
dailydot: Brown still faces charges for “access device fraud.” According to the 2012 indictment against Brown, he allegedly “possessed at least fifteen or more unauthorized access devices, in that he possessed stolen credit card account numbers and CVVs without the knowledge and authorization of the card holders.”
But whilst that may be good news, significantly reducing the potential for a 105 year sentence that Brown was possibly looking to serve, salon reminds us that Brown’s persecution by the government for journalist acts continue to reflect a dangerous moment in the state’s ongoing demand for hegemonic control over information potential of significant public interest.
The UK’s guardian points out despite the dropping of most of the charges against him, Barrett Brown still faces a possible maximum sentence of 70 years. Hardly the positive endorsement of a free press and democracy that we have come to expect. Then again maybe the press isn’t really as free as we think it is?
The dropping of charges comes as lawyers, publishers and internet freedom campaigners have warned it could set a precedent that ‘would have put a chill on the culture of linking across the web.’
To date Federal prosecutors have given no further information as to why they decided to drop the counts. That though doesn’t mean other journalists ought to watch very carefully what they link to in the future given what we’ve already seen. So much for democracy…
Donations to the journalist’s defense can be made at freebarrettbrown.org
above image found here