Julian Assange told “Democracy Now!” on Wednesday that the Pentagon and the Obama administration are going after “bright young men, determined, courageous and moral,” like Jeremy Hammond, who pleaded guilty this week to hacking private intelligence firm Stratfor, the FBI and other institutions.

Of his work as an activist and source for WikiLeaks, which received some 5 million Stratfor emails showing how the firm monitors activists and spies for corporate clients, Hammond, who also admitted to being a member of the activist hacking group Anonymous, said in a statement Tuesday: “I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.”

Hammond has already served 15 months in prison, including weeks in solitary confinement. With his plea, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to avoid a possible 30-year prison sentence under the same legislation prosecutors used to pursue Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old who hung himself earlier this year while facing probable jail time, a felony conviction and massive fines for downloading articles from the academic publisher JSTOR.

Assange spoke with “Democracy Now!” from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he is avoiding extradition to Sweden.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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