The New Political Prisoners: Leakers, Hackers and Activists

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

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Barrett Brown

Barrett Brown

WHO: Barrett Brown, 31

THE CHARGE: Brown, a self-proclaimed spokesman for Anonymous, faces multiple indictments since his arrest in September 2012 – for allegedly threatening an FBI agent in a rambling YouTube video, for posting a link to emails obtained from the 2011 Stratfor hack (the hack for which Jeremy Hammond faces decades in prison) to a chat room and for allegedly concealing evidence about another Anonymous hacker when FBI agents raided his apartment in March 2012.

PROBLEMS WITH THE CASE: Brown has long been a target of the government for his work with Anonymous, and according to Brown, FBI agents threatened his mother with an obstruction of justice charge during their investigation. While threats should be taken seriously, there is reason to believe Brown is being treated with disproportionate harshness: Another recent case involving a threat against an FBI agent resulted in a sentence of only a year and a half. Brown, who is not charged with actually participating in the Stratfor hack, is also a recovering heroin addict who has chronicled his multiple relapses and struggles through videos and online chats.

THE PUNISHMENT: Brown faces more than 100 years in prison for the laundry list of crimes he is charged with, and has been in prison since September 2012. He was ruled mentally competent to stand trial in January.

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