Barrett Brown signs (sealed) plea agreement
Barrett Brown, the American journalist that – among other things – is accused of crimes related to the Stratfor hack, has reached a plea agreement with US prosecutors.
After hacktivist collective Anonymous hacked the systems of Strategic Forecasting Inc. (Stratfor), a US intelligence gathering and analysis firm, Brown linked to the archive file containing the firms emails on the IRC channel of his Project PM.
After having been arrested, Brows was hit with 17 different charges in three separate indictments.
In March, Brown’s attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the charges related to the Stratfor hack (the entire second indictment), and succeeded in squashing 11 of the 12. The one that remained was the Access Device Fraud charge: “Aiding and abetting the possession of at least fifteen unauthorized access devices with intent to defraud by possessing card information without the card holders’ knowledge and authorization.”
But now even that charge seems to have been dropped.
By court order, Brown and his attorney are prohibited to comment on or discuss the case, but Wired’s Kim Zetter has noted that a document recently filed by the government indicates that this charge was replaced with a new charge for accessory after the fact, as he allegedly tried to hinder the authorities in discovering the identity of the Stratfor hacker and arresting him.
Another charge from the third indictment has also been added to this new one that supersedes the initial second and third indictments: an obstruction charge that says he tried to hide a laptop from investigators when they searched his place of residence.
“Brown is also facing charges related to threats he allegedly made against an FBI agent. It’s unclear if the plea agreement will cover that indictment as well. If it does, and the two cases are combined, Brown’s maximum statutory sentence would likely be five years,” Zetter pointed out.
This is a definite improvement over the initial 105 years in prison he was facing.