Activist Barrett Brown, who was charged with involvement in Anonymous' 2011 hack of Statfor for posting a link to stolen documents, was sentenced on January 22, 2015 to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $890,000 in restitution.
While the charges connected to the Stratfor hack were ultimately dropped, Brown signed a plea deal in March 2014 in which he pled guilty to three counts: 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.
Brown's attorney Ahmed Ghappour told Ars Technica that the 28 months that Brown has already served will count towards his sentence, leaving him with almost three years remaining in his prison sentence.
In a statement read prior to sentencing, Brown acknowledged, "The videos were idiotic, and although I made them in a manic state brought on by sudden withdrawal from Paxil and Suboxone, and while distraught over the threats to prosecute my mother, that’s still me in those YouTube clips talking nonsense about how the FBI would never take me alive."
"Likewise, I didn’t have the right to hide my files from the FBI during a lawful investigation, and I would’ve had a better chance of protecting my contacts in foreign countries if I had pursued the matter in the courts after the raid, rather than stupidly trying to hide those laptops in the kitchen cabinet as my mother and I did that morning," Brown added.
Following the sentencing, Brown released a statement reading in part, "Good news! -- The U.S. 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. For the next 35 months, I’ll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrondgoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world’s greatest prison system."
In response to Brown's sentencing, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said his case "raises uncomfortable similarities to the disturbing saga of Aaron Swartz, who ultimately committed suicide after facing the threat of years in federal prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ('CFAA')."
"While the substantive criminal charges and motivations between Brown and Swartz may have been different, they present a clear view of just how powerful and uncomfortable the scrutiny of federal law enforcement can be," the EFF added. "At a time when the White House is seeking to increase penalties under the CFAA, these cases highlight just how intense federal law enforcement power can be and calls for caution before we expand already harsh criminal law."
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