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Barrett Brown Guilty Plea Could Chill Reporting
Posted on Aug 30, 2014
Hacktivist journalist Barrett Brown pleaded guilty to three charges stemming from his reporting on a high-profile hack by the group Anonymous and his long-standing conflict with the FBI. Instead of the 105 years in prison he once faced, Brown could see a maximum eight and a half years behind bars, with a chance of serving less time.
Douglas Lucas reports at The Daily Dot:
Two subsequent indictments involved his refusal to hand over laptops during the March 2012 raid and what the Department of Justice insisted on calling identity theft. The latter event occurred in December 2011 when Brown posted to a chat room full of researchers and activists a link allegedly containing personal and credit card data belonging to subscribers to Stratfor. The link was obtained by hackers associated with Anonymous.
Lucas goes on to write that although a plea deal does not set a legal precedent, it does raise the question of what the Justice Department may do to other journalists who cover leaked documents or resolve to protect the identities of hacker sources regardless of official orders to release them.
Lucas quotes Kevin Gallagher, director of Free Barrett Brown Ltd., as saying: “The implications ... are worrisome in the extreme. … It must be noted that Brown’s lawyers worked painstakingly to avoid setting an undesirable precedent—one that would place other journalists at risk for dealing with hackers as sources. Yet the dangers of this novel legal construction are clear: journalists may be prosecuted for merely speaking to hackers and having knowledge of their breaches.”
Read more here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly
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