Barrett Brown Gets 63 Months in Federal Prison

Anonymous associate and freelance investigative journalist Barrett Brown, who's already spent more than two years behind bars, learned today that he will be locked up for three more.

Brown, who admitted to being an accessory after the fact to accessing a protected computer -- he linked to data obtained from a hack of private intelligence contractor Stratfor -- as well as interfering with the serving of a search warrant and threatening FBI officers, offered a lengthy allocution during which he admitted his crimes but tried to justify what he did.

"When we start fighting crime by any means necessary we become guilty of the same hypocrisy as law enforcement agencies throughout history that break the rules to get the villains, and so become villains themselves," he said.

Brown blamed the threats he made on a manic episode induced by his withdrawal from Paxil and Suboxone.

"The videos were idiotic, and although I made them in a manic state brought on by sudden withdrawal from Paxil and Suboxone, and while distraught over the threats to prosecute my mother, that's still me in those YouTube clips talking nonsense about how the FBI would never take me alive," he said.

Throughout his incarceration, Brown has received an outpouring of support from sympathetic online communities. He's also written an often bitterly funny column for D Magazine. Brown was an informal spokesman for Anonymous, the nebulous, leaderless anarcho-hacker community. His lawyers have said that he exaggerated his importance within the group.

Tim Rogers, D's editor, was the sole person to speak on Brown's behalf at Thursday's hearing. He said that he hopes to hire Brown when he gets out of prison.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young