By Mark Wachtler
January 24, 2015. Dallas, TX. (ONN) Reporter Barrett Brown received his prison sentence from a federal judge Thursday and his supporters across the US and around the world are shocked. Hoping he would be released with time served, the journalist who is supported by many of America’s largest news outlets was instead handed a five-year prison sentence and a $890k fine. His crime? Publishing a news story.
Barrett Brown, in black jacket holding ‘Free Bradley Manning’ sign. Today, people are holding ‘Free Barrett Brown’ signs.
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A brief recap
We at Whiteout Press have been reporting on, and supporting, journalist Barrett Brown since his arrest by the FBI in 2012. Having reported for reputable news outlets like Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, The Guardian and a host of others, freelance journalist Barrett Brown became one of the world’s foremost experts on the hacker collective known as Anonymous. He’s been sought out and featured in documentaries and his reports have been published around the globe.
So when Anonymous’ most accomplished hacker Jeremy Hammond acted on an order given to him by FBI mole Hector Monsegur to break into the US Defense contractor Stratfor, Brown was in position to be one of the first journalists to report on the story. After Anonymous stole and dumped troves of data onto the internet, a number of major news outlets published the story and included a link to the site displaying the stolen data. Barrett Brown penned a news report and did the same.
But while corporate news organizations in New York and London were left alone, freelance journalist Barrett Brown was arrested by the FBI for no other reason than publishing the link in his article, the same as a host of other news organizations. But that was only the beginning of Barrett Brown’s problems with federal authorities. He was about to face 105 years in prison for publishing a news article.
Read the 2013 Whiteout Press article, ‘America’s Free Press hangs on Barrett Brown’ for more information.
Terrorizing his mom
Your author has always had an affinity for indy journalist Barrett Brown. Not because of his writings, but because of the way he responded to an unprecedented and widely condemned terror campaign against his unknowing and unsuspecting mother. When federal authorities frantically collected evidence to use against Brown, they raided his mother’s home and literally threatened and terrorized her in a vain attempt to coerce her into implicating her son in a crime he didn’t commit. In reality, and thanks to hindsight and government admissions, the poor woman had nothing to do with any of it.
But the FBI wasn’t really after Barrett’s mom. They were after Barrett, and they intimidated his mother to get to him. It worked. After arresting and coercing a guilty plea from her, an obviously angry Barrett Brown took to YouTube and delivered a message to one particular FBI agent - the one that terrorized, manhandled and arrested his mother on a seemingly trumped-up charge.
Singling out the offending FBI agent by name, Barrett Brown says in his YouTube video that led to the remaining federal charges, “I know what’s legal. I know what’s been done to me…And if it’s legal when it’s done to me, it’s going to be legal when it’s done to FBI Agent Robert Smith, who is a criminal.” Brown was taken into custody over the video, as well as his news article, where he has remained since. The government eventually dropped the charges for publishing the same link a host of other news outlets did as well. The five year sentence stems from his conviction on threatening a federal agent.
Barrett Brown reacts to five-year sentence
In true Barrett Brown style, the freelance journalist released a statement immediately after receiving his 63-month sentence and $890,000 fine that has already gone somewhat viral across the internet. “Good news!” he announced, “The US government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”
While nearly all media outlets are reporting that statement as ‘sarcastic’, we at Whiteout Press know Barrett Brown is also 100% serious. He obviously used his humor to let both his supporters and the US government know that he hasn’t been broken. If anything, he’s even more motivated now to expose a tyrannical and out-of-control army of domestic secret police. But we’d bet the farm that a controversial report on the corruption of the country’s federal prison system is right around the corner from Brown. And that’s because Barrett Brown is an investigative journalist, not a terrorist like federal prosecutors desperately tried to portray him.