A federal court approved a media gag-order on Wednesday preventing imprisoned writer-turned-hacktivist Barrett Brown and his attorneys from speaking to the media about their case.
Brown, 31, has been in federal custody for nearly one year and faces upwards of a century in
prison for a slew of charges related to his alleged role with the
hacktivist collective Anonymous and a series of messages and
YouTube videos posted to the Web in 2012.
Independent journalist Dell Cameron told RT from outside of a
Dallas, Texas courtroom on Wednesday afternoon that a federal
judge has agreed with the prosecution’s request to limit Brown
and his counsel’s ability to communicate with the press ahead of
a trial scheduled to begin later this month.
That request, made early last month in the US District Court for
the Northern District of Texas, compelled the court to limit the
accused’s access to the press so as “not to try the case in
“The government is aware of dozens of instances (before and
after the admonishment) wherein Brown has or others on his behalf
have solicited the services of the media or media-types to
discuss his cases,” US Attorney Candina Heath asked the court
on August 8.
“Brown has shown his intent to continue to manipulate the
public through press and social media comments” from behind
bars, the prosecution claimed, and said any continuance of such
behavior would cause “a substantial likelihood that
‘extrajudicial commentary’ made by or condoned by the defense
will ‘undermine a fair trial.’”
The court’s ruling on Wednesday acknowledged that the case
“has generated extensive local publicity in both the print and
broadcast media, as well as the social media,” and claimed,
“This pervasive publicity can be expected to continue during
the pendency of these criminal actions.”
As a result, the court ruled, “it is necessary for the court
to take limited steps to restrain Counsel and Defendant from
making prejudicial statements to the press and media.”
The gag-order mandates that neither Brown nor his counsel shall
make any statements to the media “that could interfere with a
fair trial.” All comments must be restricted to those already
in the public record, without elaboration of characterization.
The order does not prohibit Brown “from making statements or
otherwise publishing to the press or media topics not related to
the counts on which he stands indicted.”
[Wednesday’s ruling, courtesy of Cryptome.org]
US District Sam Lindsay authorized the order, which was
acknowledged by both Heath and Charles Swift, an attorney for
Included within the prosecution’s paperwork was reference to a RT
America segment earlier this year in which Kevin Gallagher of the
group Free Barrett Brown appeared on the network’s Breaking the
Set program with Abby Martin. Brown himself was a frequent guest
on RT prior to his incarceration, which began following a Sept.
12, 2012 raid at his Dallas, TX apartment.
Much to his chagrin, Brown was repeatedly labeled in the media as
a “spokesperson” for Anonymous, the shadowy Internet collective
that has compromised and defaced dozens, if not hundreds of
websites for nearly a decade, including those of the Church of
Scientology, Sony and the Motion Picture Association of America. Brown
attempted by-and-large to distance himself from the movement,
however, instead preferring to tout his homegrown brainchild
Project PM, a crowd-sourced Wiki he administered in order to
collect open-source intelligence on known government contractors,
particularly those involved in surveillance operations targeting
activists and journalists.
Since last September, Brown has remained arguably more vocal
behind bars than other inmates. He was featured prominently in a
Rolling Stone magazine profile earlier this year, authored a book
review published on Vice.com and has garnered the support of
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, WikiLeaks attorney Michael
Ratner, late reporter Michael Hastings, Prof. Noam Chomsky and
“The persecution of Barrett Brown is yet another illustration
of the near-fanatic dedication of the current administration to
security – not security of the population, but the security of
state and private power from exposure to citizens who have every
right to know what is being exposed by the courageous activists
who are being harshly punished for the crime of taking
citizenship seriously,” Chomsky said of Brown.
In March 2012, Brown was raided by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation in conjunction with a coordinated, international
raid that targeted suspected members of the Anonymous hacktivist
collective and its offshoots, LulzSec and AntiSec. Brown was not
initially charged following the raid, but six months later he
uploaded a video to YouTube demanding that the FBI, particularly
Special Agent Robert Smith, return computers apprehended by the
authorities half-a-year earlier.
“When I get it back I’m going to release some stuff that’s on
there, and they don’t know what I have access to. That I have
copies of that is on there. They don’t want me to have it back.
There’s a reason they’re not giving it back, even copies of it.
They aren’t done with it,” Brown said in one of the videos.
In another video, Brown claimed Agent Smith was threatening his
mother, and said he was launching an investigation of his own
into the officer. In another video, Brown said, “So that’s why
Robert Smith’s life is over. And when I say his life is over, I
don’t say I’m going to kill him. But I am going to ruin his life
and look into his fucking kids.”
Brown was charged that October with making a threat made against a federal law
enforcement officer with intent to retaliate against the
performance of official duties.
In December, another indictment was unsealed in which Brown was
accused of copying a hyperlink from one Internet chat-room and
pasting it to another, in turn providing occupants of that room
with the ability to download and assess a trove of documents
pilfered by Anonymous during the Dec. 2011 hacking of private
intelligence firm Stratfor. Along with some 5 million emails,
that link also contained an archive containing credit card
information for subscribers of Stratfor’s pay service. For
sharing that link, authorities said, “Brown caused the data to
be made available to other persons online without the knowledge
and authorization of Stratfor Global Intelligence and the card
holders,” and thus charged with affecting interstate commerce
by knowingly trafficking without authorization the credit card
Then this January, Brown was charged with obstructing justice for “knowingly and corruptly
conceal[ing] and attempt to conceal records, documents and
digital data contained on two laptop computers” during the
raid from the previous year March.
“He is alleged to have made threatening YouTube videos aimed
at the FBI agent that raided his home, he is alleged to have
shared a link that contained credit card and access
information,and he supposedly hid laptops when the FBI
came-a-knocking. That’s right, that sorta stuff could cost you
100 years these days,” cybercrime attorney Jay Leiderman, who
is not directly involved in the case, wrote of Brown’s ordeal
earlier this year.
Attorneys for Brown have asked the court to postpone the hearing
until early 2014.
Ed Pilkington, a reporter for the UK’s Guardian who closely
followed the court-martial of the Army soldier now known as
Chelsea Manning, responded to news of the gag-order by tweeting,
“Means we’ll just have to work harder 2 report case.”
Republished from: RT