Target: Judge Preska, overseeing judge in the case against activist Jeremy Hammond
Goal: Convince the court to grant clemency for the hacker activist Jeremy Hammond, a political prisoner and victim of the crackdown on whistle-blowers
Recently, political dissident and hacker activist Jeremy Hammond pled guilty to charges of hacking into the private intelligence firm Stratfor, among other agencies. His guilty plea was an attempt to mitigate the severity of his sentence, which originally would have resulted in jail time of upwards of 30 years if convicted. In a statement to the court, Hammond said, “I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.” Hammond is a 28-year-old organizer that has been targeted, and now prosecuted, for his political ideology that threatens unchecked corporate and government power. Hammond will undoubtedly face jail time, but we must petition for the lessening of his sentence in an effort for some amount of justice.
Hammond’s statement included the admission of being a member of the hacktivist group Anonymous, as well as his infiltration of Stratfor, the FBI, and other firms. Statfor is a for-profit intelligence firm that works with government agencies and corporations alike. As Vivien Lesnik of the Huffington Post puts it, “they are mercenary intelligence outfits.” By hacking into this outsourced intelligence agency, Hammond sought to expose the behind-the-scenes truths of the firm’s practices. His findings (referred to as the “Statfor emails”) were subsequently published in 31 major media outlets and the watchdog agency WikiLeaks, revealing startling crimes against civil liberties committed by Statfor and its clients. The perpetrators of these crimes have not been indicted on any counts of criminal activity, whereas the whistle-blower that brought the crimes to light, Jeremy Hammond, has received stiff persecution and is being treated as a criminal.
Hammond’s case is one of many reflecting the Obama administration and Department of Justice’s crackdown on whistle-blowers and activists nationwide. Our current president has presided over the largest number of indictments against whistle-blowers in our nation’s history, a number so great that it is double the amount of all previous administration indictments combined. This crackdown has led to the suicide of 26-year-old activist Aaron Swartz, wrongful imprisonment of Bradley Manning, and the persecution of activist Barrett Brown, among other offenses. We can no longer frame heroic deeds as criminal ones and we cannot allow for the persecution of political dissidents and activists alike. We must demand clemency for Jeremy Hammond in a bid to combat the relentless targeting of believers in true democracy.
Dear Judge Preska,
When I was a child I was persuaded to believe that the United States is a nation founded on democratic principles. Within these principles are the guidelines that no individual can be targeted for their political, religious, or cultural ideology, and any such persecution of individuals for such beliefs is tyrannical and criminal.
So how is it that Jeremy Hammond has been incarcerated for almost two years, and stands to serve another ten years in jail? If our nation is adverse to holding political prisoners, than why are we containing so many individuals for their political ideology? Jeremy Hammond has stated that his actions in infiltrating Stratfor and the FBI were motivated by his conscience, and his strong ethical beliefs. Yet the court insists on framing him as a criminal. Jeremy Hammond exposed atrocities committed by these firms and helped educate the masses on their dirty deeds. Yet these individuals that committed the crimes go free, while Jeremy Hammond suffers for his heroism.
This letter is a call for your honor to have mercy on Jeremy Hammond, show him the clemency he deserves and send the right message to the American people. Bravery should be rewarded, not criminalized. Political persecution should not be tolerated. And Jeremy Hammond should be free.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jim Newberry via Wikimedia Commons