Is Journalist Barrett Brown a Political Prisoner? Q&A with Free Barrett Brown's Kevin Gallagher

"It's a politically motivated prosecution... persecution really," says Kevin Gallagher, director of the Free Barrett Brown legal defense fund. "They're very willing and able to prosecute journalists and activists and people who are critical of the state or corporations. And that's really what Barrett was looking into, was this collusion between the government the the private intelligence industry."

Barrett Brown is a journalist and online activist who sometimes spoke on behalf of the "hacktivist" collective known as Anonymous. He ran into trouble with the federal government in 2012 after posting a link to leaked material obtained from a hack of private intelligence agenices Stratfor and HBGary. Although Brown did not perpetrate the hack, the FBI raided his home and seized several of his laptops and and hard drives without charging him.

What really incensed Brown, however, was when the government threatened his mother with an obstruction of justice charge for allegedly hiding one of Brown's laptops from FBI agents. Brown began posting a series of videos to YouTube, which are still publicly available. Because of these videos and some of Brown's online writings, the FBI raided Brown again and arrested and charged him with threatening federal agents in addition to several hacking charges related to posting the link. All told, Brown faced up to 105 years in prison.

Brown has been sitting in prison for the past two years awaiting trial, unable to speak out due to a government gag order. A judge lifted that gag order just last week, and court documents reveal that Brown has accepted a plea deal to three charges: transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, accessory after the fact to unauthorized access to a protected computer, and interfering with the execution of a search warrant.

The judge will hold a change of plea hearing and set a date for Brown's final sentencing tomorrow, where he could face a maximum of 8 1/2 years. To delve deeper into this case and learn what it means for online and press freedom in America, watch Reason TV's interview with Kevin Gallagher above, conducted just a day before the gag order was lifted.

Approximately 9 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Jim Epstein.

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  • DJF||

    """"""Brown has been sitting in prison for the past two years awaiting trial, unable to speak out due to a government gag order. A judge lifted that gag order just last week, and court documents reveal that Brown has accepted a plea deal to three charges""""

    So the judge worked with the prosecution to not only hold him in jail but to gag him so he could not defend himself until he finally pled guilty

  • sloopyinca||

    "They're very willing and able to prosecute journalists and activists and people who are critical of the state or corporations. And that's really what Barrett was looking into, was this collusion between the government the the private intelligence industry."

    The private intelligence industry are corporations in only the most convoluted sense of the word. They are designed with the sole purpose of contracting with the government to spy on Americans or others. In many cases, they serve no public purpose and aren't even in the habit of doing business with non-government parties. So I disagree that this guy is in jail for being critical of the government or corporations. He's in jail for being critical of the government or their shell companies that were set up for the government to have a layer of plausible deniability.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Another angle on that, the legislators for the past decades generally seem more willing to toss about cash for "consulting" and such, and less willing to use the same money for their own permanent bureaucrats. Seems driven from both directions as various activities find it easier to get money for "sort term" contracting (that rapidly becomes long term) than for adding another 100 fed heads to a new operation.

  • Jordan||

    Jesus christ. This story is infuriating on so many levels.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Sounds like the 20 year Edward Cummings/Kevin Mitnick cycle is beginning again. I guess John Draper got the ball rolling in the 1970s, then about 20 years later Cummings and Mitnick ended up in the slammer under some questionable charges in the 1990s, now this guy.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Note: Draper really did do stuff and those other guys did stuff that they should have gotten busted for, but that was ignored for the sake of grandstanding.

  • Paul.||

    This Barrett Brown thing is a fucking mess. The more you read, the messier it gets.

  • Alan D Miller||

    Why exactly are libertarians defending Barrett Brown?? He aided and abetted, and was an accessory after the fact, to theft of highly valuable materials.

    If he had posted the address to where burglars were dropping off stolen personal belongings, would people still be defending him??

    Seems to be a case of judging a criminal based on who his victim is. Very unlibertarian-esque.

  • alaamiah||

    Thank you very much

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