WIKILEAKS STATEMENT ON JEREMY HAMMOND
Tue May 28 13:32:59 2013 EST
This morning in Lower Manhattan federal district court, political activist and alleged WikiLeaks source Jeremy Hammond accepted a non-cooperating guilty plea to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). According to prosecution documents, Mr. Hammond was entrapped by an FBI government informant, Hector Monsegur (Sabu).
Without this plea, Mr. Hammond could have been sentenced to close to 40 years in prison for political activism. With his plea Mr. Hammond still
faces up to ten years in prison. His sentencing will take place on the
6th of September 2013. Mr. Hammond had been imprisoned without trial since his arrest on 5 March 2012 in Chicago.
Mr. Hammond is accused of being a source, via WikiLeaks publications on
the US intelligence contractor Stratfor, for hundreds of media
organisations including Rolling Stone and the McClatchy group. McClatchy
is the publisher of hundreds of newspapers in the United States, including
the LA Times and the Miami Herald.
WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange stated "The Obama administrations war
on journalism must stop. Today the Obama administration imprisoned yet
another political activist and yet another alleged journalistic source:
Jeremy Hammond. The Obama administration's treatment of Jeremy Hammond is
a disgrace. Combined with similar actions against Bradley Manning, John
Kiriakou, Thomas Drake, James Risen, WikiLeaks, the Associated Press and
FOX news the intent of the Obama admnistration to undermine basic
political and journalistic freedoms is clear."
Mr. Hammond was indicted last year by a US federal grand jury. 99.97% of
people before a US federal grand jury are indicted. Of those, 99% are
subsequently convicted -- 97% in response to pressures to accept a plea
deal. According to the constitution no-one may be indicted for a federal
felony except by grand jury. Grand juries were orginally designed to keep
a check on prosecutorial excess. However, due to the secrecy of the grand
jury process, this system of accountability has been inverted and grand
juries are now used to breach the seperation of powers, giving the
executive the power to coercively force people to testify or to issue
subpeonas without judicial oversight.
In the Hammond case, once again the US government has used the much
criticised CFAA, an act that was much criticised in relation to the death
of Aaron Swartz, who was also charged under the CFAA. This legislation was
written in 1984, a year before Mr. Hammond was born, at a time when it was
principally important general government computer systems that were
connected to the Internet. Because the law failed to keep up with the
democratisation of the Internet, now even alleged unauthorised access to
every day computer systems are charged commensurate with breaches of
national security. Through amendments, vagueness in wording and
prosecutorial practice, in recent years the catch-all CFAA has permitted
prosecutors to exploit the law by engaging in significant over-charging,
inflating one distinct alleged political action into half a dozen charges
and stacking up the sentencing as a result.
Hammond's one alleged political act of obtaining Stratfor documents was spun out into five felonies, carrying a total maximum sentence of over three times that in
prison. Similarly, Aaron Swartz's one alleged political act was spun out
into four, and subsequently into thirteen felony counts.
The US government is also charging another alleged WikiLeaks source, political prisoner Bradley Manning, under the CFAA. WikiLeaks grand jury documents show that
Julian Assange may also be indicted for conspiring with Manning to violate
the CFAA. Manning's trial commences on 3 June 2013. 31 prosecution witnesses will give secret testimony.
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