« "Sentenced to a Slow Death" | Main | Are special jail facilities for veterans (and other special populations) key to reducing recidivism? »

November 17, 2013

Cyber-criminal/hacktivist gets max federal sentence of 10 years after guilty plea

As reported in this Rolling Stone piece, headlined "Cyber-Activist Jeremy Hammond Sentenced to 10 Years In Prison: The hacker, who pleaded guilty in May, is given the maximum sentence by a federal judge," a high-profile on-line criminal got a big-time sentence in federal court late last week.  Here are the details and some context:

Cyber-activist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison ... by Judge Loretta A. Preska in a federal courtroom in lower Manhattan for hacking the private intelligence firm Stratfor.  When released, Hammond will be placed under supervised control, the terms of which include a prohibition on encryption or attempting to anonymize his identity online.

Hammond has shown a "total lack of respect for the law," Judge Preska said in her ruling, citing Hammond's criminal record — which includes a felony conviction for hacking from when he was 19 — and what she called "unrepentant recidivism." There is a "desperate need to promote respect for the law," she said, as well as a "need for adequate public deterrence."

As Hammond was led into the courtroom, he looked over the roughly 100 supporters who had shown up, smiled, and said, "What's up, everybody?"  Prior to the verdict, he read from a prepared statement and said it was time for him to step away from hacking as a form of activism, but recognized that tactic's continuing importance.  "Those in power do not want the truth exposed," Hammond said from the podium, wearing black prison garb.  He later stated that the injustices he has fought against "cannot be cured by reform, but by civil disobedience and direct action."  He spoke out against capitalism and a wide range of other social ills, including mass incarceration and crackdowns on protest movements.

The Stratfor hack exposed previously unknown corporate spying on activists and organizers, including PETA and the Yes Men, and was largely constructed by the FBI using an informant named Hector Monsegur, better known by his online alias Sabu. Co-defendants in the U.K. were previously sentenced to relatively lighter terms. Citing Hammond's record, Judge Preska said "there will not be any unwarranted sentencing disparity" between her ruling and the U.K. court's decision....

Hammond's defense team repeatedly stressed that their client was motivated by charitable intentions, a fact they said was reflected in his off-line life as well. Hammond has previously volunteered at Chicago soup kitchens, and has tutored fellow inmates in GED training during his incarceration.

Rosemary Nidiry, speaking for the prosecution, painted a picture of a malicious criminal motivated by a desire to create "maximum mayhem," a phrase Hammond used in a chat log to describe what he hoped would come from the Stratfor hack.  Thousands of private credit card numbers were released as a result of the Stratfor hack, which the government argued served no public good.

Sarah Kunstler, a defense attorney for Hammond, takes issue with both the prosecution and judge's emphasis on the phrase "maximum mayhem" to the exclusion of Hammond's broader philosophy shows an incomplete picture. "Political change can be disruptive and destructive," Kunstler says. "That those words exclude political action is inaccurate."

Many supporters see Hammond's case as part of a broader trend of the government seeking what they say are disproportionately long sentences for acts that are better understood as civil disobedience than rampant criminality.

November 17, 2013 at 04:38 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Cyber-criminal/hacktivist gets max federal sentence of 10 years after guilty plea:


If the damage caused by hacking can be shown to exceed $6 million, the hacker should be executed. That is the value of human life today, in the USA. The hacker has murdered an economic life's value.

As to those on foreign soil, they should receive notice, and an invitation to defend themselves or undergo a trial in absentia. Once the above line of $6 million in damage has been crossed, a death sentence should be imposed. It may be carried out by anyone seeking a $million reward, a drone strike, or a personal assassination.

To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 17, 2013 6:05:59 PM

Is Sarah Kunstler the daughter of William Kunstler? I hope so. I knew him forty years ago and he was a great lawyer.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Nov 17, 2013 7:36:25 PM

In the above arithmetic, the defendant should be able to lower the cost calculation leading to the death penalty by returning or generating valuable information, such as about other hackers, other terrorists, other government intelligence activity.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 17, 2013 8:47:44 PM

William Kunstler was an America hating, Ivy indoctrinated enemy of our nation. He represented and tried to free the blind Sheikh that ordered and orchestrated the 1993 World Trade Tower bombing. Instead of being executed, he is living high in federal prison, and still agitating followers to attack our nation. One of his cohorts, kept alive by the lawyer traitor, stuck a pencil deep into the eye of a guard. Not a word about that from the opponents of the death penalty. When Kunstler talked into the left wing biased media, one wanted to bang one's head against wall to ease the pain of listening to this buffoon.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 17, 2013 8:55:22 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB