Originally published on January 24, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Freelance journalist Barrett Brown, whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Vanity Fair, and The Huffington Post, was sentenced to 63 months in prison on Thursday for posting a hyperlink containing stolen credit card information. Initially facing a possible sentence of 105 years, Brown accepted a plea deal after prosecutors agreed to drop most of the charges against him. The judge also ordered Brown to pay $890,250 in restitution to several companies targeted by the hacker collective Anonymous.
In December 2011, Anonymous member Jeremy Hammond hacked into Strategic Forecasting, Inc. or “Stratfor” for short. A private intelligence contractor, Stratfor claims to provide governments and corporations with geopolitical analysis. After extracting Stratfor’s files, Hammond exposed several emails from Stratfor’s former CEO George Friedman revealing that Stratfor had been partnering with Shea Morenz, a former Goldman Sachs managing director, to profit from insider trading. Shea Morenz is now President and CEO of Stratfor.
More disclosures revealed that Dow Chemical hired Stratfor to spy on protestors and victims of the 1984 Bhopal disaster while maintaining surveillance on activist filmmakers, The Yes Men. Other emails exposed that The Coca-Cola Company hired Stratfor to spy on members of PETA during the 2010 Olympics. In a statement, The Coca-Cola Company responded to the emails by saying they “consider it prudent to monitor for protest activities at any major event we sponsor.”