The New Political Prisoners: Leakers, Hackers and Activists

Meet the new generation of dissidents being locked up for taking a stand against the government

Eric McDavid

Eric McDavid
Courtesy of Support Eric McDavid

WHO: Eric McDavid, 35

THE CHARGE: McDavid and two others, Zachary Jenson and Lauren Weiner, were arrested in January 2006 and charged with conspiracy over plans to bomb several locations in California.

PROBLEMS WITH THE CASE: In the early 2000s, during what activists have called the "Green Scare," the federal government used controversial tactics to target radical environmental groups like the Earth Liberation Front, which Eric McDavid was a member of. An FBI informant, known only as "Anna," was paid more than $65,000 by the government and was given money to pay for gas, food and supplies for McDavid and the others – enough to raise serious questions of entrapment. Two jurors later submitted declarations saying that they believed McDavid deserved a new trial and condemned the FBI's behavior in the case.

THE PUNISHMENT: Weiner and Jenson both pled guilty to lesser conspiracy charges and agreed to cooperate with the government against McDavid, who was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison after being found guilty in May 2008.

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