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.
- : ”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.”
- 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?
- . 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.
- . 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.
- 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.
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