Prosecutors are pushing for the 10 year maximum sentence for Jeremy Hammond, who is accused of large-scale hacking crimes against a private intelligence firm. Hammond will be sentenced this Friday.
Hammond pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, one of three charges brought against him in 2012 in the U.S. District Court Court for the Southern District of New York. He and four other members of the hacking network Anonymous were accused of hacking and leaking emails from the private intelligence company Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor).
Hammond turned the documents over to Wikileaks for publication. The emails contained information about the Stratfor itself, including potential insider trading and domestic spying, as well as information about international affairs and individuals, such as Julian Assange and Osama bin Laden.
Although the judge overseeing the case initially suggested that Hammond could face life imprisonment, the 28-year-old hacker made a plea deal for a 10 year maximum. His co-defendants, who were located and tried in the UK, received comparatively lenient sentences. The harshest was roughly two and a half years in prison; the lightest was 200 hours of community service.
Hammond, who created HackThisSite, which hosts hacking simulations, and has committed numerous controversial hacking campaigns, like his one against conservative pro-war group Protest Warrior, has people divided. Some believe him to be a serious criminal. Others consider him an anti-war hacktivist hero. Wired reports on the prosecution's stance:
Contrary to the picture he paints of himself … Hammond is a computer hacking recidivist who, following a federal conviction for computer hacking, went on to engage in a massive hacking spree during which he caused harm to numerous businesses, individuals, and governments, resulting in losses of between $1 million and $2.5 million, and threatened the safety of the public at large, especially law enforcement officers and their families
On the other hand, organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggest that Hammond's actions “benefit the public good.” They are among 265 groups and individuals that have written to the judge in defense of Hammond. EFF contends that the punishment Hammond faces outweighs the crime, and that the hacker's motivation should be considered. It “is a crucial fact,” EFF explains “actions were not done out of malice or intent to gain financially, but with an eye towards revealing uncomfortable truths about the private intelligence industry.”