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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hacker Snitch Sang to FBI from Day One

MANHATTAN (CN) - Hector Monsegur, who helped the FBI track down other members of Anonymous and LulzSec after hacking into systems of governments and private companies, "proactively" gave information "literally the day he was arrested," according to a recently unsealed transcript of his arraignment.

Faced with more than 124 years in prison, Monsegur, 28, aka "Sabu" cracked immediately and told law enforcement about hacks into media companies Sony, Fox and PBS; private intelligence firms Stratfor and HBGary; the Tunisian, Algerian and Yemeni governments; the U.S. Senate and international law-enforcement agencies in the United States and Ireland, court documents state.

According to the prosecutor, the F.B.I. did not have to wait longer than a day to get Monsegur to start giving information that led to charges against five other hackers, which were unsealed last week.

At Monsegur's arraignment, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Pastore asked U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska to grant him bail because of his enthusiastic cooperation.

"Since literally the day he was arrested, the defendant has been cooperating with the government proactively," Pastore said, according to the document. "Those efforts have involved cooperation against targets of national and international interests."

Pastore described some of the risks Monsegur faced by cooperating.

"Some of the groups against whom the defendant is cooperating are known to retaliate against people who cooperate with the government in ways ranging from the mundane, for example, ordering hundreds of pizzas to someone's house, to much more serious: Calling in hostage situations in part by using family information and having a SWAT team show up at that person's home," Pastore said. "It's actually called 'swatting.' It's fair to say that this defendant has already incurred a significant amount of personal risk by deciding to cooperate."

That risk did not stop him from putting in overtime hours for the government, according to prosecutors.

Monsegur "literally worked around the clock with federal agents," Pastore said, according to the transcript. "He has been staying up sometimes all night engaging in conversations with co-conspirators that are helping the government to build cases against those co-conspirators."

Meanwhile, agents monitored his Lower East Side apartment, where he takes care of two daughters as a foster parent.

As of August 2011, Monsegur's cooperation had "patched more than 150 vulnerabilities to date," Pastore said. "When I say 'patch,' I mean the FBI has been able to reach out to victims sometimes before the hack has actually occurred, other times after the hack has occurred but in an effort to mitigate the harm of the hack. That is, frankly, something that we would probably not have been in a position to do without the defendant's cooperation."

As part of his plea agreement, the government agreed not to prosecute Monsegur for any charges other than criminal tax violations. The agreement leaves Monsegur safe from most charges related to the hacks, credit card fraud conspiracy, marijuana sales, handgun possession, purchase of stolen electronics and other counts.

The United States recommended that Monsegur be placed in the Witness Security Program, as his cooperation "is likely to reveal activities of individuals who might use violence, force or intimidation against the defendant, his family and loved ones," according to the cooperation agreement.

That agreement was unsealed on Friday.

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