FBI most wanted hacktivist, Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in Prison in one the most punitive sentence ever slapped on a hacker in US. The case revealed dirty tricks used by the FBI to hack foreign government computer networks in addition to raising concerns of conflict of interest on Judge Loretta Preska’s part.
FBI’s most wanted hacktivist was sentenced to 10 years in prison plus a 3 year supervise release on Friday, in one of the most punitive jail term ever slapped on a hacker by a US federal court. Jeremy Hammond pleaded guilty to an array of computer frauds including the renowned hack at Strategic Forensic Inc. that saw millions of customers’ emails and financial information leaked on the Internet via the WikiLeaks whistleblower site.
While rebuking his sentence,Hammondtermed Judge Loretta Preska’s ruling as a “Vengeful and Spiteful act” meant to scare away upcoming hacktivists and not to serve justice. To him, the prosecutors were using the case to hit back at anonymous for revealing dirty government secrets. “A lot of it is because they got slapped around, they were embarrassed by Anonymous and they feel that they need to save face,” says Hammond
In his defense, the 28 year old Chicago man, told the court hehacked private computer networks to give the public information they were entitled to and not for malicious purposes. His defense attorneys Susan Kellman and Sarah Kinstler also said Hammond was forced to the Joining and Anonymous and Antisec groups after several failed attempts to express his frustrations with the US government through mainstream channels including presenting petitions in court.
“I targeted the manufacturers and distributors of military and police equipment who profit from weaponry used to advance U.S. political and economic interests abroad and to repress people at home,” read Hammond’s statement. “I targeted information security firms because they work in secret to protect government and corporate interests at the expense of individual rights, undermining and discrediting activists, journalists and other truth seekers, and spreading disinformation.”
Shockingly, Hammond revealed a ploy by the FBI to hack private computer networks including those of foreign governments by soliciting help from members of the anonymous group. According to Hammond the FBI used Hector Xavier Monsegur alias Sabu, an ex- anonymous member who turned FBI informant to infiltrated private networks and rally hackers into launching wild attacks on governments such as Turkey, Iran and Brazil.
“What the United States could not accomplish legally, it used Sabu, and by extension, me and my co-defendants, to accomplish illegally,” Hammond wrote. “Why was the United States using us to infiltrate the private networks of foreign governments? What are they doing with the information we stole? And will anyone in our government ever be held accountable for these crimes?”
Apparently, Sabu, who is yet to be sentenced was the Mastermind of Stratfor hack that revealed massive government surveillance programs on the civilprotestors including members of the Occupy Wall Street and other protestors in Iraq and India.
“It is kind of funny that here they are sentencing me for hacking Stratfor, but at the same time as I was doing that an FBI informant (Sabu) was suggesting to me foreign targets to hit,” says Hammond “I had never heard of Stratfor until Sabu brought in another hacker who told me about it. Practically, I would never have done the Stratfor hack without Sabu’s involvement.”
The Friday ruling, received mixed reactions from Privacy advocates, protestors and Supporters all over the world. Prior to the ruling, the government had sent a memo describing Hammond as” hacking recidivist” who deserved the maximum penalty amid hundreds of letters sent by Hammond supporters pleading for a lenient ruling.
After the conviction, Hammond supporters released documents online revealing how the FBI used Hammond and his friends to targets foreign nations between January and February 2012.Wikileaks has also released of 500K new Stratfor files “If this was an FBI operation they probably should have given him a paycheck instead of sending him to prison for the next 10 years,” said David Seaman, an independent journalist opposed to Hammond’s sentence.
Hammond case also raised serious concerns of conflict of interests on the part on the Presiding Judge Loretta Preska after it is appears his husband Thomas Kaveler was a victim of Stratfor leak.
Top/Featured Image: By Jeremy Hammond / Wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jeremy_Hammond,_March_2014_by_FreeJeremy.Net_03-20-2014-061144PM.jpg)