Journalist and Anonymous member, Barrett Brown, has been sentenced to 63 months in Prison in Dallas on Thursday. He was also ordered to pay more than $890,000 in restitution and fines.
Barrett Brown called the harsh punishment a “dangerous precedent” and issued the statement: ‘They’re sending me to investigate the prison-industrial complex’
The Guardian reports:
Brown’s backers from across the web had hoped he would be able to walk free with his 31 months of time served for what they insist was “merely linking to hacked material”. But the 33-year-old, who was once considered something of a spokesman for the Anonymous movement, will face more than twice that sentence. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $890,000 in restitution and fines.
In a statement released after his sentencing, Brown was sarcastically upbeat: “Good news!” he wrote. “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.”
Kevin Gallagher, the director of the Free Barrett Brown campaign, whom Brown personally singled out for thanks in his pre-sentencing statement, told the Guardian that his first reaction was that the judge had got it wrong. “I was shocked and disappointed,” he said.
At one point, Brown was facing a possible combined sentence of over 100 years. But after prosecutors dropped several charges against him following a plea deal, Brown’s sentencing parameters were reduced.
Gallagher warned that the long sentence would nonetheless set a precedent for journalists. “Basically,” he said, “if you share a link to publicly available material without knowing what’s in it – maybe it could contain stolen credit card info – you could be prosecuted.”
“Any journalist that uses hackers as sources is extremely chilled by this,” Gallagher added.
Gallagher said that he spoke to Brown on Wednesday and found him in high spirits. “We thought he’d get between 30 and 40 months,” he said. “I think he’s just as upset as we are.”
An investigative journalist, essayist and satirist who has written for the Onion, Vanity Fair and the Huffington Post, as well as for the Guardian, Brown claims to have split with Anonymous in 2011, and the leaderless structure of the collective makes the idea of a “spokesman” difficult to even imagine.