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article imageLetter campaign asks leniency for hacktivist Jeremy Hammond

By Justin King     Oct 6, 2013 in World
A letter campaign is underway to provide letters of support for Jeremy Hammond prior to his sentencing on November 15th. Hammond has accepted a plea deal with a statutory maximum of 10 years.
In the course of the plea deal, Hammond was forced to admit his role in eight hacks beyond the one count of violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. These admissions will be used by the federal government to add points to his offense level and increase his sentence.
Hammond explained his reasoning for the plea in a written statement.
During the past 15 months I have been relatively quiet about the specifics of my case as I worked with my lawyers to review the discovery and figure out the best legal strategy. There were numerous problems with the government’s case, including the credibility of FBI informant Hector Monsegur. However, because prosecutors stacked the charges with inflated damages figures, I was looking at a sentencing guideline range of over 30 years if I lost at trial. I have wonderful lawyers and an amazing community of people on the outside who support me. None of that changes the fact that I was likely to lose at trial. But, even if I was found not guilty at trial, the government claimed that there were eight other outstanding indictments against me from jurisdictions scattered throughout the country. If I had won this trial I would likely have been shipped across the country to face new but similar charges in a different district. The process might have repeated indefinitely. Ultimately I decided that the most practical route was to accept this plea with a maximum of a ten year sentence and immunity from prosecution in every federal court.
Now that I have pleaded guilty it is a relief to be able to say that I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites. Those others included military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies. 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.
How federal sentencing works:
A sentence in the Federal system is calculated by the use of a chart that provides the judge a with sentencing range. Although the range is only a suggestion, in practice judges rarely depart from the range. The range is dependent on two factors; the defendant’s prior convictions and the offense level.
Determining the offense level for a crime involves adding and subtracting points for various factors that modify the base offense. Jeremy Hammond’s offense level will break down close to this:
Base offense level for the crime: 6
Add 16 levels because the estimated loss is between 1 million and 2.5 million dollars.
Add 6 levels because the offense, including the relevant conduct of uncharged offenses, involved more than 250 victims.
Add 2 levels because the offense involved what the government deems as sophisticated means.
Add 2 levels because the offense involved disseminating private information.
Add 2 levels because the offense involved a computer the government deems was used in the administration of justice.
Subtract 2 levels because Hammond “accepted responsibility” for his actions by agreeing with the government’s case.
Subtract 1 level because he notified the government of his intent to enter a guilty plea before they had to prepare for trial.
This brings his offense level to 31.
His prior adult criminal convictions place him in a Criminal History category of IV.
His sentencing range is 151 to 188 months. In this case, Mr. Hammond’s sentencing guidelines place him in a range above the maximum allowable sentence for the crime of 120 months. He has already served 16 months awaiting sentencing, bringing him down to 104 months. He will then have the opportunity to earn up to 15% of his sentence in “good time” credits simply by staying out of trouble in prison. If Mr. Hammond successfully completes a Residential Drug Abuse Program for any substance abuse problems he may have, he can receive an additional 12 month reduction in his sentence.
His plea deal has been publicized as a “non-cooperating plea deal,” which rules out a 50% reduction for either a 5K.1 or Rule 35 reduction for providing the government with substantial assistance in prosecuting other cases by testifying.
The letter campaign:
The campaign seeks to provide the court with letters asking for leniency, and is asking that all letters be mailed or faxed so they arrive by October 15th. They warn not to try to argue that Mr. Hammond was convicted unjustly; the campaign seeks instead to highlight the fact that those convicted in Ireland and the United Kingdom will spend no more than 16 months in prison, and that the sentencing guidelines for a non-violent crime such as computer abuse are not fitting for the severity of the crime.
A judge departing from the guidelines is rare, especially in a case when the guidelines warrant the statutory maximum, however if the campaign can create the desired avalanche of letters, they might sway the judge towards leniency. For more information on the letter campaign, click here.
The same organization will be hosting a rally in Manhattan on November 14th and on the morning of November 15th.
More about Jeremy Hammond, Anonymous, Sentence, sentencing guidelines
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