LulzSec’s Hammond pleads guilty to hacking Stratfor

Stratfor is the focus, and the guilty plea. In December 2011 Hammond and other hackers under the banner AntiSec broke into Stratfor and stole 860,000 subscriber account details, 60,000 credit card details, and approximately 5 million emails. Approximately $700,000 was subsequently charged to the credit cards – and the emails have been leaking out via WikiLeaks ever since. There are strong indications that the hack was set up by Hector Monsegur (Sabu) who was simultaneously the ‘leader’ of LulzSec and a covert FBI informant. Sabu persuaded the hackers to transfer the stolen material to an FBI-controlled server and subsequently informed on the participants. If all of this is true, the Stratfor hack is arguably a case of enticement.

In his statement yesterday, Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated, “While he billed himself as fighting for an anarchist cause, in reality, Jeremy Hammond caused personal and financial chaos for individuals whose identities and money he took and for companies whose businesses he decided he didn’t like. He was nothing more than a repeat offender cybercriminal...”

In pleading guilty over Stratfor and admitting involvement elsewhere, Hammond has reduced his maximum sentence from 30 years to 10 years.

Hammond’s own statement paints a different picture. He explains that it was a “non-cooperating plea agreement [that] frees me to tell the world what I did and why, without exposing any tactics or information to the government and without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of other activists on and offline.” The allusion and contrast to Sabu is clear. Indeed, he adds, “There were numerous problems with the government’s case, including the credibility of FBI informant Hector Monsegur.”

Hammond explains that he had to decide between a possible victory and a probable loss at trial. But, “If I had won this trial I would likely have been shipped across the country to face new but similar charges in a different district. The process might have repeated indefinitely. Ultimately I decided that the most practical route was to accept this plea with a maximum of a ten year sentence and immunity from prosecution in every federal court.” In pleading guilty, he says he is “glad to shoulder the responsibility for my actions and to move one step closer to daylight.”

Hammond is due to be sentenced by Judge Loretta Preska on September 6, 2013 at 10 a.m. Monsegur is due to be sentenced a few weeks earlier in August, although sentencing has already been delayed twice due to his continuing co-operation with the FBI (which may now have come to a natural conclusion). Meanwhile, Hammond’s supporters are campaigning for leniency. Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center For Constitutional Rights, says Hammond should be considered a whistle-blower. "He, like other whistle-blowers in this country, ought to be protected, because they're the only thing that let us know what our government and our private security companies are doing and they're the only things that can keep this government even close to honest."

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