Barrett Brown is an American activist, author, and freelance writer/journalist. His work has appeared in the Guardian,Vanity Fair, Huffington Post, Businessweek, Skeptic, Skeptical Inquirer, Al Jazeera English, New York Press, American Atheist, McSweeney’s, True/Slant and other outlets. He has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, Fox News and Russia Today. He is the founder of Project PM, a distributed think-tank which researches and reports on things related to ”the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry’s interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/cybersecurity industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions.” More recently, he has been misrepresented in the media as a spokesperson for the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous, a group he took a special interest in with whom he acted more as an embedded journalist. He’s a co-author on Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design and the Easter Bunny, and had been working on additional books, with topics such as the failures of American media punditry and the early history of Anonymous, while maintaining a blog. Previously, Barrett had served as Communications Director for GAMPAC which became Enlighten the Vote. His last major project prior to being imprisoned was Operation Pursuant.
Although Barrett had a serious side, he was also noted for his irreverence and use of humor, satire and hyperbole, demonstrated through writings for National Lampoon et al. and his similar demeanor and mannerisms as the cult figure Hunter S. Thompson. He once famously hosted a Tinychat while taking a bubble bath and drinking a glass of wine. Mr. Brown appears as an interviewee in three recent documentary films: We Are Legion, Future Radicals, and Terms and Conditions May Apply.
Having previously been raided by the FBI on March 6, 2012 and not charged with any crime in relation to that incident, on September 12, 2012 Barrett Brown was again raided and this time arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was online participating in a Tinychat session. He was subsequently denied bail and detained without charge and adequate medical treatment for over two weeks while in the custody of US Marshals. In the first week of October 2012, he was finally indicted on three counts:
Internet Threats 18 U.S.C. § 875(c)
Conspiracy to Make Publicly Available Restricted Personal Information of an Employee of the United States18 U.S.C. § 371 (18 U.S.C. § 119)
Retaliation Against a Federal Law Enforcement Officer (18 U.S.C. §§ 115(a)(1)(B) and (b)(4))
These charges are related to alleged activities or postings on popular websites such as Twitter and YouTube, in which he postured for the return of property which was taken from him in March, and expressed frustration at the targeted campaign against him and a member of his family. The Department of Justice issued a press release at the time. On December 4, 2012 Barrett was indicted by a federal grand jury on twelve additional counts related to data from the Stratfor breach:
Traffic in Stolen Authentication Features (18 U.S.C. §§ 1028(a)(2),(b)(1)(B), and (c)(3)(A)) Aid and Abet (18 U.S.C. § 2)
Access Device Fraud (18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(3) and (c)(1)(A)(i)) Aid and Abet (18 U.S.C. § 2)
Aggravated Identity Theft (18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A(a)(1)) Aid and Abet (18 U.S.C. § 2)
Regarding the late-2011 hacking of the intelligence firm Stratfor by elements of Anonymous, Mr. Brown wrote on December 26, 2011, ”Stratfor was not breached in order to obtain customer credit card numbers” and voiced his opinion that ”this aspect of the operation…should be scrutinized and criticized as necessary.” Despite his lack of direct involvement in the operation and stated opposition to this aspect, he faces these charges for the alleged mere act of pasting a hyperlink into an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel. Over a month before the event he even praised Stratfor on Twitter as ”one of the better intel tanks.” On January 23rd, 2013 he was indicted a third time on two more counts, relating to the March 2012 FBI raid(s) on his apartment and his mother’s house:
Obstruction: Concealment of Evidence (18 U.S.C. § 1519) and Aid and Abet (18 U.S.C. § 2)
Obstruction: Corruptly Concealing Evidence (18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1)) and Aid and Abet (18 U.S.C. § 2)
Barrett has entered a plea (#2) of NOT GUILTY in the first two cases. He is currently incarcerated while awaiting trial in Mansfield, TX. At this critical time, with such a prominent internet activist facing an extremely difficult legal battle and uncertain future, he needs our unwavering help and support. We encourage you to donate to his defense, so that he may have the resources he needs to fight these charges. Your prospective contribution has significance in a wider campaign for free speech and transparency both on the internet and across the world.