Monday, June 24, 2013

A Donation Plea From "Free Barrett Brown"

Dear friend of press freedom,
I’m writing to you with an urgent request: your support for the legal defense fund of Barrett Brown, an investigative journalist now facing life in prison as a result of his writing and research.
American journalism is under attack in 2013. In recent years we’ve seen an unprecedented wave of criminal investigations targeting reporters and whistleblowers, while prosecutors abuse vague laws regarding computer use to threaten activists with outrageous sentences. Today Barrett Brown faces the full weight of this crackdown. It’s up to us to ensure that Barrett sees justice and defeats the wildly excessive charges against him.
Barrett’s career as a journalist is a brave and colorful one. He has written for publications including Vanity Fair, the Guardian, and the Huffington Post; and he co-authored a popular book, Flock of Dodos. In 2010, the revelations brought to light by WikiLeaks spurred Barrett to start investigating the secretive world of private cybersecurity, defense and intelligence contractors. Barrett founded an independent think-tank, Project PM, and started reporting on the Anonymous hacktivist collective.

When Anonymous hacked into the records of the private security firm HBGary Federal in early 2011, Barrett’s zeal for transparency in taxpayer-funded yet little-known defense projects led him to spend months researching this company’s corrupt activities. He did the same in 2012, after the leak of thousands of records from the private intelligence firm Stratfor.
  • Glenn Greenwald: ”Brown is a serious journalist who has spent the last several years doggedly investigating the shadowy and highly secretive underworld of private intelligence and defense contractors, who work hand-in-hand with the agencies of the Surveillance and National Security State in all sorts of ways that remain completely unknown to the public. It is virtually impossible to conclude that the obscenely excessive prosecution he now faces is unrelated to that journalism and his related activism.”
Despite his achievements, Barrett now waits in prison to fight a sentence of up to 105 years. The 17 charges against him are based on Barrett having blogged openly about FBI harassment of him and his family; on Barrett allegedly having hidden a laptop when a family member’s home was raided by the FBI in search of evidence against him; on his allegedly having “trafficked in stolen goods” — that is, Stratfor documents containing clients’ credit card data; and on his alleged “dissemination” of the Stratfor documents by simply copying and pasting a link to them in an online chat. There is no indication that Barrett sought to use the credit card numbers in any way; in fact, he publicly condemned Anonymous’ suggestion of doing so. As a journalist, Barrett felt responsible for exposing to the public the inner workings of firms contracting with the U.S. government — and for his efforts, he may receive a lifetime in prison.
Barrett’s prosecution highlights critical issues for American journalists, activists, and internet users:
  • The right to link. The charges against Barrett for sharing the Stratfor data represent an attempt to criminalize linking. What does this mean for the rights of internet users, let alone journalists who link to primary source material? Online linking is used by millions daily. What absurd legal theory makes an internet user responsible for the content and consequences of a shared link, resulting in criminal charges?
  • Information and press freedom. Barrett’s work to uncover the activities of private security and intelligence companies made him a prime target for prosecution. If citizens are prevented from researching the growing surveillance state, what will become of privacy, transparency, and civil liberties in America? Already we see chilling effects on journalists working to shed light on corruption and abuse among government contractors.
  • Selective prosecution. Many others — including established reporters — shared the same link to Stratfor data named in Barrett’s indictment. Why is only Barrett being prosecuted? And why is the FBI worried enough about the speech of an unarmed writer to conduct heavily-armed raids on his home? Barrett’s case is a prime example of the DOJ’s current prosecutorial abuse of journalists, whistleblowers, and information activists.
  • Reporters’ privilege. The laptop that Barrett allegedly hid contained journalistic sources and work product, including a book in progress. The First Amendment protects reporters from revealing confidential information or sources. It isn’t hard to conclude that the charges based on Barrett’s alleged concealment amount to an effort to stifle his reporting on America’s growing surveillance industry.
Fortunately, two of the most skilled and dedicated lawyers in the country have taken up the fight: Charles Swift and Ahmed Ghappour, best known for their advocacy on behalf of Guantánamo detainees, winning a victory over the Bush administration in a 2006 Supreme Court caseBut even with expert representation, Barrett’s defense calls for resources that he doesn’t have. Your support is urgently needed to help Barrett regain his freedom and continue his vital work. And this is not Barrett’s fight alone — the outcome of this case will affect every American’s rights to free speech, to independent journalism, and to political activism. Not only does Barrett deserve a future — so do all of us, to preserve our right to know what our government does in secret, yet in our names.
Barrett’s trial begins in September. His defense is being funded entirely through individual donors. With less than three months to go, will you help today?
Three easy ways to contribute:
  • Checks or money orders mailed to: Free Barrett Brown Ltd., P.O. Box 2658, Amherst, MA 01004
Suggested levels of support:
  •     $30 — Friend of Online Journalism
  •     $60 — Friend of Press Freedom
  •     $120 — Friend of Barrett Brown
  •     $300 — Friend of the First Amendment
  •     $600 — Friend of the Constitution
  •     $1000 — Friend of Justice
Don’t let the government take away a courageous journalist’s life with abusive prosecution for alleged information “crimes.” Free Barrett Brown.
With many thanks, and in solidarity,
Kevin M. Gallagher
Free Barrett Brown
Twitter: @FreeBarrett_
Facebook: Free Barrett Brown

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Message From "Free Barrett Brown" Concerning Michael Hastings

Free Barrett Brown sends its condolences to the friends and family of Michael Hastings who died in a fiery car crash early Tuesday morning. Hastings was a fearless journalist who questioned power. He was a friend of Barrett's and an active member of Project PM, a crowd-sourced research effort to expose government intelligence contractors. We deeply mourn his passing.

Barrett defended Hastings' award winning journalism in his Vanity Fair piece, "Why The Hacks Hate Michael Hastings." He was candid about their friendship—warning the reader:
"I should note—not only in the interest of full disclosure, but also necessary context—that I am a friend and admirer of Michael Hastings
, the author of the Rolling Stone piece in question. He was kind enough to blurb my upcoming book on the failures of the American punditry (and is planning on writing a novel on the same topic, incidentally); he shares my opinions on the state of journalism and opinion in this country; and he has joined up with Project PM, my perhaps quixotic attempt to do a small part in improving that media whose flawed reporting on matters of war and peace has recently had a hand in leaving hundreds of thousands dead and injured our republic’s ability to rationally operate both at home and abroad. I first spoke in support of Hastings before I’d ever made contact with him, which is to say that my opinion of him is not based on our association; my association with him is based on my opinion of him. That opinion is derived from the unassailable and unfortunately noteworthy competence and conduct he has displayed throughout his relatively short career."

Barrett also blurbed Hastings' second book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, calling it, "The most impact-laden story of the year . . . written by a perfect specimen of the new breed of journalist-commentator."

In support of Barrett, Hastings wrote: “Barrett Brown is a journalist, plain and simple. He’s also a colleague and friend, and one of the brilliant, if highly unconventional, American writers of his generation. I offer my support to Barrett and his family, and respectfully ask for his immediate release from custody.” He believed Barrett's work helped contribute to a free press.

Before his untimely death, Hastings was working on a story about Barrett, announcing mysteriously to his followers "Get ready for your mind to be blown." Hastings had been in touch with Barrett's lawyers, and intended to interview him in June for the story. Barrett has been in prison for 281 days pending trial, and faces over a hundred years imprisonment for what Hastings called "trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous."

The loss of Michael Hastings is a tremendous blow to adversarial journalism, but the circumstances surrounding his death leave many questions unanswered. Michael believed he was under FBI investigation at the time of his death, and that his calls with Barrett were being recorded.
We're raising money for Barrett's defense. Donate.
Please send press inquiries to


Ky Anonymous/Deric Lostutter Under Public Fire

Ky Anonymous/Deric Lostutter Under Public Fire

Monday, June 3, 2013

Reuters' Web Producer Indicted For Conspiring With Anonymous Hacking Group

Reuters' Web Producer Indicted For Conspiring With Anonymous Hacking Group

Link to the interview:

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There's been an interesting twist in an ongoing story about political hacking. A federal grand jury has indicted a 26-year-old deputy social media editor at for conspiring with the hacking group Anonymous. The group is known for hacking into websites to make political statements. According to the indictment, Matthew Keys helped Anonymous break into the computers of his former employer, the Tribune Company. NPR's Laura Sydell has more.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Our story begins back in October of 2010 when Matthew Keys was let go from his job at Fox 40, a Tribune-owned TV station in Sacramento, California. On December 14th, someone hacked into the website of one of the Tribune's other news properties, the L.A. Times. The intruder changed a headline from Pressure Builds in House to Pass Tax-Cut Package to Pressure Builds in House to Elect CHIPPY 1337. According to the federal indictment, Keys conspired with the hacker group Anonymous to stage the attack and change the headline.

Keys, who had been reporting on Anonymous, had managed to gain access to an online chat room where members of the group hung out. According to the federal indictment, using the name AESCracked, Keys shared all of his login and personal information from his former employer with one of the hackers. The indictment has a screenshot where AESCracked responds to news from one of the hackers that they got into the Tribune website by writing LOL, laughing out loud.

The hacker identified as Sharpie says he's having trouble staying inside the system. AESCracked responds by saying, I can grant you access again. The Justice Department would not comment for this story, but Keys' newly appointed attorney, Jay Leiderman, had this to say about the accusations.

JAY LEIDERMAN: He didn't hand over passwords, login credentials, anything like that to Anonymous.

SYDELL: Leiderman claims that Keys is being falsely accused by a former Anonymous member named Sabu, whose real name is Hector Monsegur. Monsegur was arrested by federal authorities and has been cooperating with the larger investigation into the activities of Anonymous. Leiderman thinks that Monsegur, who faces over 100 years in prison, is just trying to please federal prosecutors.

LEIDERMAN: When you're looking down a barrel at a 124-year prison sentence, you are liable to say anything.

SYDELL: Leiderman says Keys is a journalist who wrote a good article looking at Anonymous from the inside, and by indicting Keys, the federal government is trying to send a signal.

LEIDERMAN: Because Anonymous receives so much press, so much interest from the media, this was a shot across the bow of journalists. If you embed yourself with Anonymous, if you dare tell their story, we're going to prosecute you.

SYDELL: Keys' current employer, Reuters, has suspended him from his position where he's a social media editor. According to Reuters' own reporting, Keys got in some trouble there last fall. He covertly created a parody Twitter account, mocking Google's CEO Larry Page. The indictment of Keys has drawn the attention of Internet civil rights groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF. Keys is being charged under the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, and he could face as much as 25 years in prison, says EFF attorney Hanni Fakhoury. Fakhoury says the law is too harsh.

HANNI FAKHOURY: He's charged with a felony for behavior that if done in the physical world, if you think of someone who spray-paints graffiti on a freeway sign, will maybe be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

SYDELL: Keys is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Sacramento on April 12th. Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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Jay Leiderman on Voice of Russia Radio Discussing the Bradley Manning Trial

Afternoon Show   →   Opinion: Manning trial is about 'the public's right to know what their government is up to'

Jun 3, 2013 14:56
Military. iStockphoto/Thinkstock.
Military. iStockphoto/Thinkstock.
WASHINGTON -- The Bradley Manning trial began Monday at Fort Meade, MD. In February, Manning pleaded guilty to lesser charges that could result in 20 years behind bars, but prosecutors are hoping for an "aiding the enemy" charge that could result in life behind bars.
Voice of Russia's Rob Sachs talks with Jay Leiderman, a lawyer based in California who often represents those in the internet hacking community

Please visit the Bradley Manning Support Network to learn more about the case:

“If you had free reign over classified networks… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?”

“God knows what happens now.  Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… I want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
-Quotes from an online chat attributed to Bradley Manning

Nobel Peace Prize nominee PFC Bradley Manning, a 25-year-old Army intelligence analyst, who released the Collateral Murder video, that shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. Manning also shared documents known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables. These documents were published by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, and they have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy. Given the war crimes exposed by these documents,  PFC Bradley Manning should be given a medal of honor.

Read more about Bradley Mannning here.