Hacker Jeremy Hammond Faces Life in Prison

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At a recent pre-trial hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta A. Preska warned that alleged Stratfor hacker Jeremy Hammond faces 30 years to life in prison if found guilty of all the charges filed against him, and denied his request for bail. Hammond, who has already been held for eight months without bail or trial, has also apparently been added to the FBI's terrorist watchlist.

"Preska told Hammond in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday that he could be sentenced to serve anywhere from 360 months to life if convicted on all charges relating to last year’s hack of Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a global intelligence company whose servers were infiltrated by an offshoot of the hacktivist collective Anonymous," RT reports.

"More specifically, the government alleges that starting last December, Hammond and others from AntiSec stole information from about 860,000 Stratfor subscribers, including emails, account information, and data from about 60,000 credit cards," writes CSO Online's Taylor Armerding. "The government alleges that he published some of that information online, and used some of the stolen credit card data to run up at least $700,000 in unauthorized charges. He is also accused of giving about five million internal emails to WikiLeaks, which were published under the name The Global Intelligence Files."

"Roughly 30 supporters of Hammond seated in the courtroom turned somber as the judge read her ruling," writes Courthouse News Service's Adam Klasfeld. "The possibility of a 37-year sentence, combined with Hammond's 'lack of regard for legal authority,' make him a flight risk, Preska said. She also said Hammond's peerless computer savvy puts him in a different class compared with defendants who make bail while facing other computer crimes. 'The application for bail is denied,' she said."

"However, members of Anonymous have since drawn attention to Judge Preska and her relationship with the Stratfor hack," writes ZDNet's Michael Lee. "Preska's husband, Thomas Kavaler, is among the victims of the breach. Kavaler's work email address at Cahill Gordon & Reindel was among the information leaked from the attack on Stratfor, matching his profile on the CG&R website. Anonymous has since issued a statement, saying that in the interest of justice, Judge Preska must step down due to a direct conflict of interest."

"Judge Preska by proxy is a victim of the very crime she intends to judge Jeremy Hammond for," the statement reads. "Judge Preska has failed to disclose the fact that her husband is a client of Stratfor and recuse herself from Jeremy's case, therefore violating multiple Sections of Title 28 of the United States Code. Judge Loretta Preska's impartiality is compromised by her Husband's involvement with Stratfor and a clear prejudice against Hammond exists, as evident by her statements."

Elizabeth M. Fink, Hammond's defense attorney, is also suggesting that Hammond may have been a victim of FBI entrapment. "At the time that Hammond allegedly hacked into Stratfor and sent the data to LulzSec leader Sabu -- whose real name is Hector Xavier Monsegur -- Sabu was already an FBI informant, and his activities were reportedly being monitored by agents around the clock," writes InformationWeek's Mathew J. Schwartz. "Interestingly, Sabu turned FBI informant after his arrest on June 7, 2011, but then launched the group known as AntiSec, before announcing that LulzSec was retiring. In other words, the bureau appeared to keep Sabu's hacktivist campaigns running, to see who else they could catch."