Law

Lawsuit Accuses Dallas FBI Agents of Illegally Monitoring Contributions to Barrett Brown’s Defense Fund

This should be interesting.

It has been interesting, these past few weeks, having Barrett work at D Magazine. Seems like I get a Google alert every couple of days or so about something he’s involved with. Interviews with other media. Efforts to overthrow the government. It’s all fine with me so long as he gets his work done. Just today I shouted, “Brown! I need you at the City Council meeting tomorrow to see if Tiffinni Young is really going to get this Sean Johnson elevated to vice chair of the Parks Board!” Barrett sits about 8 feet from me, but I shout for two reasons: 1) it makes me feel powerful, and 2) Barrett is deaf in his left ear. Or he’s deaf in his right ear. I forget which.

In any case, just a bit ago I got another Google alert, and I think this one is worth calling your attention to. From the Washington Times: “The Justice Department was sued in federal court Tuesday on behalf of hundreds of donors whose otherwise anonymous political contributions were secretly monitored by the FBI. Attorneys filed the class-action complaint in San Francisco federal court this week on behalf of individuals who previously contributed to a now-defunct legal fund established for Barrett Brown …”

When I read the story, I shouted, “Brown! I need an official statement from you concerning this lawsuit!” And here it is:

In the next 24 hours, Dallas federal prosecutor Candina Heath and a number of Dallas FBI agents will be served with a summons informing them that they’re being sued in the Northern District of California for having illegally sought and obtained the identities of those who contributed to my legal fund. The plaintiffs are Kevin Gallagher, who was the founder of Free Barrett Brown, along with one of the contributors whose personal information was obtained. As may be seen from the suit, the move to obtain this information was not only illegal, but unconstitutional — and also very telling.

The background to all of this has been presented in countless articles and several documentary films, in addition to having been used as a minor plot point in season two of House of Cards, but it bears summarizing here. Shortly after associates of mine in the Anonymous movement hacked a state-linked firm that turned out to have been planning an array of bizarre and criminal operations against journalists and activists — a plot that the Department of Justice was shown to have facilitated — there were calls in Congress for an investigation into this so-called Team Themis conspiracy. The relevant committee chairman, Lamar Smith, ensured that no such investigation would occur by deferring to the DOJ, which he claimed would be the appropriate body to look into a potential crime that the DOJ itself had instigated. Instead, the DOJ investigated me in retaliation for the work that my Project PM research organization had done in discovering and documenting various aspects of the state-corporate information warfare, with search warrants having been secretly issued just a few weeks after we began our investigation. Eventually I would be arrested and physically assaulted in a dramatic raid that was captured on my webcam and charged with 17 counts, the vast majority of which eventually had to be dropped.

Over the next two years, as I fought the case from a series of Dallas jails, Dallas federal prosecutor Candina Heath attempted to seize the legal fund that Gallagher had set up to hire me a private attorney; sought and obtained information on the researchers who had contributed to the wiki on which we presented our findings; sought and obtained a gag order to prevent me from speaking further about the case on the grounds that an article I’d written from jail for The Guardian on the Snowden revelations “was critical of the government”; and — as has now been revealed in this suit — illicitly forced an online payments firm, WePay, to hand over everything they had on the large number of individuals who chose to assist me in my legal defense by contributing to our legal fund.

Further background and analysis is available via the Washington Times article that went up earlier this afternoon.

I look forward to commenting on this matter further as the lawsuit proceeds.

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