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Monday, May 26, 2014

Barrett Brown’s Court Documents Unsealed: The Implications of the Gag Order

Dallas, May 20, 2014 – On April 23 District judge Sam Lindsay unsealed documents relating to journalist Barrett Brown’s trial and the subsequent gag order that was issued on September 4, 2013. Brown has been behind bars since his arrest September 12, 2012 and held under gag-order for the last 8 months. His arrest, and the gag-order that successfully kept his case out of the media spotlight, has some worrying implications for journalists and free citizens everywhere.

Barrett Brown has been an activist, and a journalist. Articles and blogs from Brown have been featured in numerous publications including the Guardian, Vanity Fair, and the Huffington Post. He is part of the new breed of online activists who are also free-lance writers. Brown and his cohorts are able to bring a raw, fresh perspective to journalism while advocating for the issues they hold dear. His work with Anonymous made him a household name in online forums and by 2011 he was conducting interviews as an unofficial spokesman for the hacker collective.

On March 6, 2012 the FBI raided Barrett Brown’s home while conducting a search warrant. Working on a tip from hacker turned informant Sabu, the FBI sought computers and records related to “conspiracy to obstruct justice, and the obstruction of justice” and “conspiracy to access without authorization protected computers”. The government was looking for any information Brown had on a hack of intelligence firm HBGary and others.After locating Brown at his mother’s house the FBI notified him of the warrant and came back with a warrant for her house as well.

Six months later, on September 12, 2012 Brown was raided a second time. This time he was at home and participating in a live Tinychat session.After being denied bail and held without charge for two weeks, he was finally indicted on three charges in October 2012. The charges dealt with aYouTube video posted by Brown in which the FBI alleged he made threats to one of their agents. In December, Brown was indicted again on charges related to the hack of Austin, Texas based intelligence firm Stratfor. Jeremy Hammond would later receive ten years for that leak.

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