17 November 2013
Jeremy Hammond Sentencing Statement
2013-1586.pdf Jeremy Hammond: USA Sentencing Memorandum November 15, 2013
Jeremy Hammond was sentenced today Nov 15, 2013 to 10 years, the maximum
possible, for what in the end was a series of FBI directed hacking operations.
Below is his pre-sentencing statement to Judge Preska, whose husband was
a client of one of the operations, #Stratfor. Special thx to @ioerror for
un-redacted statement of FBI directed international operations (linked below).
They used to convict children of WitchCraft when Churches fell down. They
didn't understand their problem either.
JEREMY HAMMOND SENTENCING STATEMENT | 11/15/2013 (via @sparrowmedia and @ioerror)
Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Jeremy Hammond and
Im here to be sentenced for hacking activities carried out during my
involvement with Anonymous. I have been locked up at MCC for the past 20
months and have had a lot of time to think about how I would explain my actions
Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize the work of the people
who have supported me. I want to thank all the lawyers and others who worked
on my case: Elizabeth Fink, Susan Kellman, Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler,
Margaret Kunstler, and Grainne ONeill. I also want to thank the National
Lawyers Guild, the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee and Support Network,
Free Anons, the Anonymous Solidarity Network, Anarchist Black Cross, and
all others who have helped me by writing a letter of support, sending me
letters, attending my court dates, and spreading the word about my case.
I also want to shout out my brothers and sisters behind bars and those who
are still out there fighting the power.
The acts of civil disobedience and direct action that I am being sentenced
for today are in line with the principles of community and equality that
have guided my life. I hacked into dozens of high profile corporations and
government institutions, understanding very clearly that what I was doing
was against the law, and that my actions could land me back in federal prison.
But I felt that I had an obligation to use my skills to expose and confront
injustice-and to bring the truth to light
Could I have achieved the same goals through legal means? I have tried everything
from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power
do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are
ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power
structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never
mind the rights of its own citizens or the international community.
My introduction to politics was when George W. Bush stole the Presidential
election in 2000, then took advantage of the waves of racism and patriotism
after 9/11 to launch unprovoked imperialist wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.
I took to the streets in protest naively believing our voices would be heard
in Washington and we could stop the war. Instead, we were labeled as traitors,
beaten, and arrested.
I have been arrested for numerous acts of civil disobedience on the streets
of Chicago, but it wasnt until 2005 that I used my computer skills
to break the law in political protest. I was arrested by the FBI for hacking
into the computer systems of a right-wing, pro-war group called Protest Warrior,
an organization that sold racist t-shirts on their website and harassed anti-war
groups. I was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the 'intended
loss' in my case was arbitrarily calculated by multiplying the 5000 credit
cards in Protest Warriors database by $500, resulting in a total of
My sentencing guidelines were calculated on the basis of this 'loss,' even
though not a single credit card was used or distributed by me or anyone else.
I was sentenced to two years in prison.
While in prison I have seen for myself the ugly reality of how the criminal
justice system destroys the lives of the millions of people held captive
behind bars. The experience solidified my opposition to repressive forms
of power and the importance of standing up for what you believe.
When I was released, I was eager to continue my involvement in struggles
for social change. I didnt want to go back to prison, so I focused
on above-ground community organizing. But over time, I became frustrated
with the limitations, of peaceful protest, seeing it as reformist and
ineffective. The Obama administration continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
escalated the use of drones, and failed to close Guantanamo Bay.
Around this time, I was following the work of groups like Wikileaks and
Anonymous. It was very inspiring to see the ideas of hactivism coming to
fruition. I was particularly moved by the heroic actions of Chelsea Manning,
who had exposed the atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
She took an enormous personal risk to leak this information - believing that
the public had a right to know and hoping that her disclosures would be a
positive step to end these abuses. It is heart-wrenching to hear about her
cruel treatment in military lockup.
I thought long and hard about choosing this path again. I had to ask myself,
if Chelsea Manning fell into the abysmal nightmare of prison fighting for
the truth, could I in good conscience do any less, if I was able? I thought
the best way to demonstrate solidarity was to continue the work of exposing
and confronting corruption.
I was drawn to Anonymous because I believe in autonomous, decentralized direct
action. At the time Anonymous was involved in operations in support of the
Arab Spring uprisings, against censorship, and in defense of Wikileaks. I
had a lot to contribute, including technical skills, and how to better articulate
ideas and goals. It was an exciting time - the birth of a digital dissent
movement, where the definitions and capabilities of hacktivism were being
I was especially interested in the work of the hackers of LulzSec who were
breaking into some significant targets and becoming increasingly political.
Around this time, I first started talking to Sabu, who was very open about
the hacks he supposedly committed, and was encouraging hackers to unite and
attack major government and corporate systems under the banner of Anti Security.
But very early in my involvement, the other Lulzsec hackers were arrested,
leaving me to break into systems and write press releases. Later, I would
learn that Sabu had been the first one arrested, and that the entire time
I was talking to him he was an FBI informant.
Anonymous was also involved in the early stages of Occupy Wall Street. I
was regularly participating on the streets as part of Occupy Chicago and
was very excited to see a worldwide mass movement against the injustices
of capitalism and racism. In several short months, the 'Occupations' came
to an end, closed by police crackdowns and mass arrests of protestors who
were kicked out of their own public parks. The repression of Anonymous and
the Occupy Movement set the tone for Antisec in the following months - the
majority of our hacks against police targets were in retaliation for the
arrests of our comrades.
I targeted law enforcement systems because of the racism and inequality with
which the criminal law is enforced. I targeted the manufacturers and distributors
of military and police equipment who profit from weaponry used to advance
U.S. political and economic interests abroad and to repress people at home.
I targeted information security firms because they work in secret to protect
government and corporate interests at the expense of individual rights,
undermining and discrediting activists, journalists and other truth seekers,
and spreading disinformation.
I had never even heard of Stratfor until Sabu brought it to my attention.
Sabu was encouraging people to invade systems, and helping to strategize
and facilitate attacks. He even provided me with vulnerabilities of targets
passed on by other hackers, so it came as a great surprise when I learned
that Sabu had been working with the FBI the entire time.
On December 4, 2011, Sabu was approached by another hacker who had already
broken into Stratfors credit card database. Sabu, under the watchful
eye of his government handlers, then brought the hack to Antisec by inviting
this hacker to our private chatroom, where he supplied download links to
the full credit card database as well as the initial vulnerability access
point to Stratfors systems.
I spent some time researching Stratfor and reviewing the information we were
given, and decided that their activities and client base made them a deserving
target. I did find it ironic that Stratfors wealthy and powerful customer
base had their credit cards used to donate to humanitarian organizations,
but my main role in the attack was to retrieve Stratfors private email
spools which is where all the dirty secrets are typically found.
It took me more than a week to gain further access into Stratfors internal
systems, but I eventually broke into their mail server. There was so much
information, we needed several servers of our own in order to transfer the
emails. Sabu, who was involved with the operation at every step, offered
a server, which was provided and monitored by the FBI. Over the next weeks,
the emails were transferred, the credit cards were used for donations, and
Stratfors systems were defaced and destroyed. Why the FBI would introduce
us to the hacker who found the initial vulnerability and allow this hack
to continue remains a mystery.
As a result of the Stratfor hack, some of the dangers of the unregulated
private intelligence industry are now known. It has been revealed through
Wikileaks and other journalists around the world that Stratfor maintained
a worldwide network of informants that they used to engage in intrusive and
possibly illegal surveillance activities on behalf of large multinational
After Stratfor, I continued to break into other targets, using a powerful
'zero day exploit' allowing me administrator access to systems running the
popular Plesk webhosting platform. Sabu asked me many times for access to
this exploit, which I refused to give him. Without his own independent access,
Sabu continued to supply me with lists of vulnerable targets. I broke into
numerous websites he supplied, uploaded the stolen email accounts and databases
onto Sabus FBI server, and handed over passwords and backdoors that
enabled Sabu (and, by extension, his FBI handlers) to control these targets.
These intrusions, all of which were suggested by Sabu while cooperating with
the FBI, affected thousands of domain names and consisted largely of foreign
government websites, including those of (redacted by Judge Pleska) [See redacted
material below] XXXXXXX, XXXXXXXX, XXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXX,
XXXXXXXX, XXXXXXX and the XXXXXX XXXXXXX. In one instance, Sabu and I provided
access information to hackers who went on to deface and destroy many government
websites in XXXXXX. I dont know how other information I provided to
him may have been used, but I think the governments collection and
use of this data needs to be investigated.
** via @ioerror: the original and unredacted version of the above paragraph:
The government celebrates my conviction and imprisonment, hoping that it
will close the door on the full story. I took responsibility for my actions,
by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its
The U.S. hypes the threat of hackers in order to justify the multi billion
dollar cyber security industrial complex, but it is also responsible for
the same conduct it aggressively prosecutes and claims to work to prevent.
The hypocrisy of 'law and order' and the injustices caused by capitalism
cannot be cured by institutional reform but through civil disobedience and
direct action. Yes I broke the law, but I believe that sometimes laws must
be broken in order to make room for change.
In the immortal word of Frederick Douglas, 'Power concedes nothing without
a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will
quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and
wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they
are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are
prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
This is not to say that I do not have any regrets. I realize that I released
the personal information of innocent people who had nothing to do with the
operations of the institutions I targeted. I apologize for the release of
data that was harmful to individuals and irrelevant to my goals. I believe
in the individual right to privacy - from government surveillance, and from
actors like myself, and I appreciate the irony of my own involvement in the
trampling of these rights. I am committed to working to make this world a
better place for all of us. I still believe in the importance of hactivism
as a form of civil disobedience, but it is time for me to move on to other
ways of seeking change. My time in prison has taken a toll on my family,
friends, and community. I know I am needed at home. I recognize that 7 years
ago I stood before a different federal judge, facing similar charges, but
this does not lessen the sincerity of what I say to you today.
It has taken a lot for me to write this, to explain my actions, knowing that
doing so - honestly - could cost me more years of my life in prison. I am
aware that I could get as many as 10 years, but I hope that I do not, as
I believe there is so much work to be done.
Sabu also supplied lists of targets that were vulnerable to "zero day exploits"
used to break into systems, including a powerful remote root vulnerability
effecting the popular Plesk software. At his request, these websites were
broken into, their emails and databases were uploaded to Sabu's FBI server,
and the password information and the location of root backdoors were supplied.
These intrusions took place in January/February of 2012 and affected over
2000 domains, including numerous foreign government websites in Brazil, Turkey,
Syria, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Nigeria, Iran, Slovenia, Greece, Pakistan,
and others. A few of the compromised websites that I recollect include the
official website of the Governor of Puerto Rico, the Internal Affairs Division
of the Military Police of Brazil, the Official Website of the Crown Prince
of Kuwait, the Tax Department of Turkey, the Iranian Academic Center for
Education and Cultural Research, the Polish Embassy in the UK, and the Ministry
of Electricity of Iraq.
Sabu also infiltrated a group of hackers that had access to hundreds of Syrian
systems including government institutions, banks, and ISPs. He logged several
relevant IRC channels persistently asking for live access to mail systems
and bank transfer details. The FBI took advantage of hackers who wanted to
help support the Syrian people against the Assad regime, who instead unwittingly
provided the U.S. government access to Syrian systems, undoubtedly supplying
useful intelligence to the military and their buildup for war.
All of this happened under the control and supervision of the FBI and can
be easily confirmed by chat logs the government provided to us pursuant to
the government's discovery obligations in the case against me. However, the
full extent of the FBI's abuses remains hidden. Because I pled guilty, I
do not have access to many documents that might have been provided to me
in advance of trial, such as Sabu's communications with the FBI. In addition,
the majority of the documents provided to me are under a "protective order"
which insulates this material from public scrutiny. As government transparency
is an issue at the heart of my case, I ask that this evidence be made public.
I believe the documents will show that the government's actions go way beyond
catching hackers and stopping computer crimes.