The weird, sickening persecution of Barrett Brown continues. Whether or not you like the guy (and every time we post about him, we hear from people who provide reasons why they dislike him), the way he’s been treated by our justice system is despicable. If you don’t recall, Brown is an award winning journalist, who certainly went deep with Anonymous and other online groups. Eventually that resulted in him being arrested and harassed by prosecutors for sharing a link. When the infamous Stratfor hacks were released, he shared a link to the files to get people to sift through them. Because some of the files included swiped credit card numbers, he was charged with “trafficking” in stolen credit cards. Oddly, right before trial — realizing how insane it was to charge him over this — the feds dropped the charges around linking, but pushed forward on other charges because he hid a laptop in a cabinet and (stupidly…) got angry at the FBI when they came to investigate. The odd part is that following a plea deal, the judge sentenced him to an astounding 63 months in jail — and cited the sharing of the link (again, those charges were dropped, but it sometimes appeared the judge didn’t realize that) to explain why.
But the odder part throughout all of this was just how vindictive and petty everyone in the system were towards Brown — and specifically towards his interactions with the press. The feds sought to stop the media from reporting on Brown’s case and got a judge to block Brown or his lawyers from talking to the media. And once he was in prison, the feds cut off his email.
All this weird petty shit, just to stop him from talking to the media.
Late last year, he was released from prison (earlier than expected) and has been complying with all the terms of his release… except, apparently, officials disagreed with that… because he was conducting interview with the media, according to D Magazine, where Brown has been working since his release. The Intercept, which employed Brown as a columnist while he was in prison, has more details, claiming that his check-in officer suddenly claimed that he needed permission before he could conduct media interviews — something he had not been told at all.
According to his mother, who spoke with Brown by phone after his arrest, Brown believes the reason for his re-arrest was a failure to obtain “permission” to give interviews to media organizations. Several weeks ago, Brown was told by his check-in officer that he needed to fill out permission forms before giving interviews.
Since his release, Brown has given numerous interviews, on camera and by phone. But according to his mother, Brown said that the Bureau of Prisons never informed him about a paperwork requirement. When he followed up with his check-in officer, he was given a different form: a liability form for media entering prisons.
Just last week, Brown was interviewed for two days by VICE, and his PBS interview was set for Friday.
Leiderman said he had not been presented with a formal justification for the arrest but was told that it had “to do with failing to abide by BOP restrictions on interviews.”
That’s both astounding and frightening at the same time, and seems like a fairly blatant kick in the face to the First Amendment. There appears to be no other reason for his arrest other than his speech in the form of conducting media interviews (often critical of criminal justice system). Nothing about this makes sense, other than out of pure vindictiveness. And, of course, if the idea was to shut him up about this, it seems quite likely to backfire massively. Not only will Brown continue to be able to talk about on this, but it’s drawing much more attention to the issue from many others in the press, wondering what kind of world we live in when you can be arrested for agreeing to do media interviews.
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