from the of-course dept
Late yesterday, a superseding indictment was filed in Barrett Brown’s case, knocking the charges down to just two, with the main one being that he somehow offered assistance to Jeremy Hammond, who had taken an earlier plea deal for the Stratfor hack. As many people suggested, this new indictment was almost certainly because of a plea deal, which has now been confirmed, as the court also granted a motion to seal the plea deal.
The case against Brown has been something of a travesty from the beginning, as Brown was clearly never involved in the hack, but was involved in reporting on the hack and then involved in some rather misguided public ranting in which he threatened the feds if they came after him. As it became clear that the key part of the government’s case hinged on the idea that copying and pasting a link found elsewhere was tantamount to hackking, the DOJ was forced to back down and dismiss most of the charges. Brown has been in jail for many months already, and it’s likely that the plea deal will keep him in for a short while longer. Accepting a plea deal is pretty standard in these situations. If you’re not familiar with how these things go down, when the DOJ is embarrassed — as they clearly were in this case — they almost always pressure defendants into agreeing to some minor plea deal, to save face for themselves. It takes the “risk” away from the defendant, and generally speeds up the process. It’s the same sort of thing that happened to Thomas Drake. As we’ve said before, if you think plea deals like this are an actual admission of guilt, we suggest you watch the documentary Better This World, which shows you how the DOJ deals with cases like this, where they will do basically anything to get people to plead guilty.