|Intro||Political activist and hacker|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||8 January 1985, Chicago|
Jeremy Hammond (born January 8, 1985) is a political hacktivist and computer hacker from Chicago. He was convicted and sentenced in November 2013 to 10 years in US Federal Prison for hacking the private intelligence firm Stratfor and releasing the leaks through the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. He founded the computer security training website HackThisSite in 2003.
Hammond was raised in the Chicago suburb of Glendale Heights, Illinois, with his twin brother Jason. Hammond became interested in computers at an early age, programming video games in QBasic by age eight, and building databases by age thirteen. As a student at Glenbard East High School in the nearby suburb of Lombard, Hammond won first place in a district-wide science competition for a computer program he designed. Also in high school, he became a peace activist, organizing a student walkout on the day of the Iraq invasion and starting a student newspaper to oppose the Iraq War. His high school principal described Hammond as “old beyond his years”.
Hammond attended the University of Illinois at Chicago on a full scholarship. In the spring of 2004, during his freshman year, he exploited a security flaw on the computer science department’s website and went to department administrators, offering to help fix the security flaws on the site and looking to maybe get a job. For inserting the backdoor, Hammond was called before the department chair and ultimately banned from returning for his sophomore year.
Jeremy, along with his brother Jason, has had a lifelong interest in music, performing in numerous bands through the years. Before Jeremy’s arrests, they were both actively performing in the Chicago ska band Dirty Surgeon Insurgency.
Hammond worked as a Mac technician in Villa Park, Illinois. He also worked as a web developer for Chicago-based Rome & Company. His boss at Rome & Company wrote in 2010 that Hammond is “friendly, courteous and polite and while we suspect he has a low tolerance for corporate posturing, he has never demonstrated any contempt for business in the workplace”.
Hammond founded the computer security training website HackThisSite at age 18, during the summer after his high school graduation. The website describes itself as “a non-profit organization that strives to protect a good security culture and learning atmosphere”. In its first two years the site got 2.5 million hits and acquired 110,000 members and a volunteer staff of 34. As of September 2013, the website has a user base of over 1,800,000. “Jeremy is one of the best, most helpful guys I have ever talked to”, wrote HackThisSite user Brandon Perry of Texas. “He is a good guy that only taught ethical hacking”.
During the 2004 DEF CON event in Las Vegas, Hammond delivered a talk that encouraged “electronic civil disobedience” as a means of protest against the annual Republican National Convention and its supporters.
Arrests and activist history
Hammond was arrested for possessing marijuana in November 2004 and December 2010.
During the 2004 Republican National Convention protest activity in New York, Hammond was arrested during a “drum-banging protest”.
Occupy Wicker Park
During a march initiated by University of Illinois at Chicago students on September 12, 2005, Hammond was arrested when police intervened after twenty marchers occupied Wicker Park’s Damen and Milwaukee traffic intersection.
Jeremy was arrested along with 25 others for helping Anti-Fascist groups at the National Socialist Movement’s December 10, 2005 rally in Toledo, Ohio. A total of 25 people were arrested for violations relating to a court injunction that barred public gatherings (meant to protect the Neo-Nazis from protesters).
Chicago Pride Parade
Jeremy pleaded guilty to battery for getting into an altercation with anti-gay protesters and police while marching in a gay pride parade. Jeremy’s lawyer, Melinda Power, attributed the melee to “anti-gay protesters” who “attacked her client” at the annual Chicago Pride Parade on June 28, 2004.
On December 7, 2006, Hammond was sentenced to two years in federal prison and three years’ probation after pleading guilty to charges of breaking into the computer system of Protest Warrior, a group that aggressively targeted anti-Iraq War activists. Based on information and chat logs provided by cooperating witnesses, Hammond was indicted on June 26, 2006, for “hacking into a politically conservative website and stealing its computer database including credit card information”. At his sentencing hearing, the court heard that he was motivated by politics and not personal gain. Prosecutor Assistant U.S. attorney Brandon D. Fox said, “While Jeremy Hammond tried to make this about politics, we wanted to make this about what actually occurred, that he stole credit cards”. Charges of 2.5 million dollars in damages were assessed based on $500 per credit card, for each of the 5,000 credit card numbers in Hammond’s possession, despite the fact that no money had been spent. Hammond served his prison term at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) of Greenville, Illinois, a medium-security facility.
Protesting Holocaust Denier David Irving
On March 25, 2010, Hammond was arrested for taking part in a confrontation with Holocaust denier David Irving. Wearing black masks, five people stormed the Edelweiss restaurant in Norridge, Illinois, and “threw glasses and kicked over chairs” to drive out Irving’s guests during which another restaurant patron was struck by a bottle.
On November 29, 2010, Hammond was sentenced to 18 months probation and 130 hours of community service for mob action, by Cook County Judge Joseph Kazmierski. Hammond along with five others had been arrested on September 29, 2009, for tearing down a Chicago 2016 banner at Daley Plaza and burning it to protest the Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
On March 5, 2012, Hammond was arrested by FBI agents in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago for actions related to the 2012–13 Stratfor email leak. The indictment was unsealed the following day in the Lower Manhattan federal district court. He is one of six individuals from the United States, England and Ireland indicted.
The arrests were largely due to the FBI informant known as Sabu. Fox News in Manhattan was first to break the story based on “access to Sabu’s handlers” of three arrests “on two continents”, a sealed federal indictment for six, and a “separate indictment” for Hammond. The story was later confirmed by other news agencies when the court papers were unsealed.
The case was prosecuted by the office of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Hammond was represented by Elizabeth Fink, “a firebrand attorney” with the National Lawyers Guild who won a settlement of $8 million against the Government of New York for ex-inmates of the Attica Prison riot.
In November 2012, after being held for eight months without trial, Hammond was denied bail by Judge Loretta A. Preska, who warned that he could face life imprisonment for the Stratfor leak.
In February 2013, the defense filed a motion asking presiding Judge Preska to recuse herself from the case on the basis that Preska’s husband, Thomas Kavaler, had an email address released in the Stratfor disclosure and works with Stratfor clients that were affected by the hack. Hammond’s legal team stated that Kavaler’s status “as both a victim of the alleged crimes of the accused and an attorney to many other victims creates an appearance of partiality too strong to be disregarded, requiring disqualification”. On February 21, 2013, Judge Preska denied the request for recusal because her husband did not recall subscribing to Stratfor’s mailing list and the only information released was his publicly available work e-mail address, and that Hammond’s alleged legal strategy was to have every judge recuse themselves until there were no judges left to try the case.
After pleading guilty to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Hammond was sentenced on November 15, 2013, to the maximum of ten years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He is currently serving his sentence in FCI Manchester in Manchester, Kentucky.
In his sentencing statement, Hammond said he was unaware of Stratfor’s vulnerabilities until he was given them by Sabu, who was “under the supervision of the FBI” at the time according to the FBI’s sealed complaint filed against Hammond.
Among the public figures who have spoken in support of Hammond’s release are Yes Men activist Andy Bichlbaum, journalist John Knefel, free software activist Richard Stallman, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times journalist Chris Hedges, Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner, journalist Alexa O’Brien, National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Heidi Boghosian Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Education (ret.) at University of Illinois at Chicago, and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University, as well as Northwestern University philosophy professor Peter Ludlow. Also in solidarity are Julian Assange, editor of WikiLeaks; Larry Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University; and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.