Journalist Linked to Anonymous Gets Five Years in Prison
Washington – A journalist also known as an informal spokesman for the hacker group Anonymous was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday in a case which rallied activists for press freedom, his supporters said.
Barrett Brown, arrested in 2012, was originally charged with collaborating with hackers but later pleaded guilty to lesser charges including accessory to the unauthorized access of a protected computer.
“United States of Injustice: Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months in federal prison,” said a tweet from the group “Free Barrett Brown” after the sentencing in federal court in Dallas, Texas.
Brown was also ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution.
Brown, who had written for Vanity Fair, the Huffington Post and other news outlets, became an advocate for Anonymous and was indicted after posting links to data stolen from the security firm Stratfor Global Intelligence in 2011.
Brown’s defense was supported by media rights organizations including the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, which claimed he was prosecuted for his actions as a journalist.
In his statement written for the hearing, Brown said “the government exposed me to decades of prison time for copying and pasting a link to a publicly available file that other journalists were also linking to without being prosecuted.”
Brown and his supporters had asked him to be sentenced to time already served, or 30 months.
In a statement after the sentencing, Brown appeared defiant as he mocked the process.
“Good news! — The US government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex,” he said.
“For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system.”