What follows is a statement from the Barrett Brown legal defense team which I received by email – it included an attachment which will be appended to this post, a press release. I wanted to post it here because I think that the exploratory nature especially in common between Barrett’s case and the recent revelation of the D0J’s surveillance of the Associated Press bears emphasizing.
Barrett Brown Legal Defense Fund Condemns DOJ Dragnet on Journalists
Yesterday we learned that the United States Justice Department had secretly obtained phone call records for the news organization The Associated Press. As advocates of privacy and freedom of the press, we condemn this development in no uncertain terms, and call on all journalists to rally behind Barrett Brown, whose case is a prime example of government persecution of journalists who challenge the status quo.
When Brown was first raided in March 2012, the search warrant sought information on entities and firms material to his reporting. But the government was not only going after his sources in Anonymous—they were after what they uncovered. At the time, Barrett was leading a crowd-sourced research effort at ProjectPM to exploit leaked information about security and intelligence contractors tied to the government, which had discovered a plan to attack and discredit WikiLeaks at the behest of Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce.
Barrett was also working on a book about the internet collective Anonymous, to be titled Anonymous: Tales From Inside The Accidental Cyberwar, having landed a six-figure book deal with publisher Amazon.com. When the FBI took possession of his laptops, he lost the draft of the book and months worth of notes.
The FBI wanted to get their hands on his work before the world did. Barrett asserted the reporter’s privilege and now faces over 100 years in prison. He was charged with obstruction of justice for attempting to keep his sources and work product away from government agents. Additionally he was charged with twelve counts for linking to source materials.
As Glenn Greenwald wrote, “it is virtually impossible to conclude that the obscenely excessive prosecution he now faces is unrelated to [his] journalism.” We hope that yesterday’s revelation will underscore the threat to journalists in mainstream media as well as those like Barrett who do not have institutional support.
Free Barrett Brown stands ready to protect reporter’s privilege, the right to link, and the future of internet journalism. Please visit freebarrettbrown.org for more information and send press inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.We also encourage people to donate to support our efforts.