“Hacktivist” or “computer hacking recidivist”? It depends on who you talk to when it concerns the case of Jeremy Hammond of the hacker collective Anonymous, who is on trial for defacing law enforcement and corporate websites and stealing 200 gigabytes of email and 60,000 credit card numbers from a private intelligence firm, Stratfor.
Hammond risks a 10-year prison sentence, to be handed to him on Friday in New York by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, for the latest in a series of not-for-profit hacks that delve into the servers of public and intelligence agencies, Wired reported.
His first offense was in 2006, when he was sentenced to two years of jail time for hacking the site of a right-wing group. In 2011, following his sentence, he began staging “protest hacks” and data thefts from the FBI’s Virtual Academy, Vanguard Defense Industries, the Alabama Sheriff’s Office, and others.
In December of that year, Hammons staged his coup de grace: bulk-deleting files and stealing 5 million private emails from private intelligence contractor Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, which he gave to WikiLeaks. He also stole 60,000 credit card numbers from Stratfor subscribers, which members of Anonymous then charged with $700,000 in “donations” to non-profit groups.
“Jeremy saw working with Anonymous and Antisec as an opportunity to be like Chelsea Manning – to do his part to access information that needed to be shared with the people,” Hammond’s defense attorneys wrote earlier this month.
The government remains skeptical.
“Hammond’s history of recidivism and complete disregard for the law belies his current claim at sentencing that he will not re-engage in this same criminal conduct upon his release from prison,” the government wrote.
“Moreover, Hammond’s own statements prior to his arrest show that, contrary to his contentions now, Hammond was motivated by a malicious and callous contempt for those with whom he disagreed, particularly anyone remotely related to law enforcement, not a ‘concern with both transparency and privacy.’”
Hammond’s undoing was hacktivist-turned-double-agent Hector Xavier Monseguir, who encouraged Hammond and other Stratfor hackers to continue their hacks— and to transfer stolen material onto an FBI-controlled server, after the FBI told Monseguir his game was up in 2011.
Hammond pleaded guilty to a single charge with a 10-year maximum sentence. His lawyers are asking for a sentence of 20 months.
Hacking trials are heating up in other parts of the world: Free District reported Tuesday that Singapore Anonymous hacker James Raj, who goes by the moniker “The Messiah,” has been charged with hacking a town council website. Five other hackers in Singapore are being questioned for hacks into the websites of the president and prime minister.