Hacktivist Released to Halfway House

DALLAS (CN) – Calling his four years in federal prison a “formative experience,” Anonymous-linked hacktivist and journalist Barrett Brown was released to a halfway house in Dallas this week.

Brown, 35, of Dallas, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison in January 2015 in a plea agreement in which he admitted he hid computers during execution of a search warrant at his mother’s home and posted profanity-laced videos threatening to shoot FBI agents investigating him.

Brown was indicted in October 2012 on charges of making an Internet threat, conspiring to make restricted personal information of a federal employee publicly available and retaliating against a federal law enforcement officer.

In a second indictment he was accused of linking to stolen credit card information obtained from Anonymous’ 2011 hack of Austin-based security firm Stratfor Global Intelligence. Prosecutors said the link led to 5,000 credit card account numbers.

A third indictment alleged obstruction of justice during the FBI raid on his mother’s home.

Brown blamed his “manic state” in the videos on “sudden withdrawal from Paxil and Suboxone.”

U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay was not persuaded by Brown’s arguments that posting the link was a First Amendment issue, nor that the conviction would chill the rights of journalists. Lindsay ordered Brown to pay $890,000 in fines and restitution at sentencing.

In an article posted Thursday on DMagazine.com, Brown thanked Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and Sarah Harrison for posting 60,000 email messages from intelligence contractor HBGary in celebration of his release.

Brown’s Project PM had been investigating HBGary before his legal troubles.

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