For the little attention that the case of Bradley Manning has been getting in the main stream media these days, Jeremy Hammond has received even less, though his plight is all too familiar. Hammond, a political activist from Chicago, was arrested on March 5, 2012 by FBI agents for hacking and releasing documents of Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or Stratfor, to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He was recently denied bail in federal district court and has been held without bail or trial for more than ten months.
Hammond was arrested due to an informant in the hacker group Anonymous named Sabu. Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and lawyer in the U.S. for WikiLeaks, speaking with Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!, explained the case, saying,
“There was an informant in Anonymous, apparently, named Sabu, who is somewhat well-known, who actually set up this crime for Stratfor. The FBI gave him the computer that the Stratfor documents were actually uploaded to. There’s a pretty clear case of entrapment, in terms of trying to get Jeremy Hammond.”
Of the Stratfor documents that Hammond released, some five million emails, many expose how the private intelligence firm spies and monitors activists for their corporate clients. According to Ratner, these emails include information about surveillance of groups and organizations, “from PETA to the Yes Men, to other activists.”
Recently, information has been released linking Judge Loretta Preska, the judge who is trying Hammond in federal district court in New York, to the leaked emails through her husband, Thomas Kavaler, a lawyer with Cahill Gordon whose email was also part of the Stratfor releases. Judge Preska has refused to recuse herself from the case and has stated that her personal connection to the case will not effect her impartiality. If Hammond is convicted, he could receive 37 years-to-life.
This trend of going after hackers and whistleblowers has been growing in recent years. Under the Obama administration, six people have been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. Prior to this administration, there were only three such cases in U.S. history, including Daniel Ellsberg and the famous Nixon administration Pentagon Papers. Among Obama’s prosecuted whistleblowers is the former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was charged for allegedly releasing classified information to the media about waterboarding. The Obama administration is also after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the 2010 release of documents allegedly received from Manning. Assange is currently under political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and has been so since December 2011. He sought political asylum there to avoid extradition or illegal rendition from Sweden to the United States, where many believe that the U.S. would attempt to prosecute him under the Espionage Act.
As our civil liberties, our right to a fair and speedy trial, our right to a free media, and our right to the freedom of speech are being stripped away, we cannot sit idly by. We cannot allow brave individuals like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Jeremy Hammond to take the fall for exposing us to the crimes of our governments and of corporations. We must stand with them in solidarity and make our support for them known. On January 8th, Jeremy Hammond had his 28th birthday in jail. Write to him and tell him you stand with him, not quietly, but loudly and forcefully and that you will not allow the government and corporations to sweep him and others like him under the rug. The government wants you to remain silent. It believes that if they punish people like Hammond and Manning strongly enough, the rest of us will dutifully keep our heads down and be silent. We cannot be silent. Send your support for Jeremy here:
Jeremy Hammond 18729-424
Metropolitan Correctional Center
150 Park Row
New York, New York, 10007
Happy Birthday and Happy New Year! I just wanted to write to you and tell you that I support your cause and stand with you in solidarity! The government’s prosecution of you is unjust and unlawful. You should be lauded for the work you have done to expose the criminality of the government and of corporations, not hid away in a cell. If the government wants our silence, we will not give it to them and we will raise our voices to fight for your release and the release of other heroic whistleblowers like you.
Alyssa Pauline Röhricht