Law

The Judge Who Sent Me to Prison and His Bachelorette Daughter, Rachel Lindsay

I can't wait till Judge Sam Lindsay is my father-in-law.

Judge Lindsay and his famous daughter, Rachel
Judge Lindsay and his famous daughter, Rachel

In the latest in the string of bizarre and possibly supernatural incidents that have plagued me since childhood, it was announced Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that the star of the upcoming season of The Bachelorette is the daughter of Sam Lindsay, the federal judge who sentenced me to 63 months in prison in a case that was denounced as retaliation for my work in exposing government wrongdoing by outlets ranging from the New York Times to Der Spiegel to U.S. News and World Report, by NGOs including Reporters Without Borders and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, by former U.S. prosecutors, and by foreign members of parliament. Lindsay also ordered me to pay $800,000 in restitution to Stratfor, a State Department-linked firm that was revealed by Wikileaks to have conducted surveillance for Dow Chemical on Bhopal activists, among other things.

Naturally I didn’t want to end up facing additional charges in a courtroom run by a judge who didn’t find it suspicious that the DOJ attributed to me a quote calling for the death of Julian Assange that was actually uttered by Fox News contributor Bob Beckel on live television, as Assange himself pointed out at the time. So after the government was forced to drop the bulk of the charges due to fundamental flaws in how they were using the statutes, I pleaded guilty to three counts, including accessory after the fact. You see, I had called the executives of the firm after it was hacked and offered to redact any sensitive information from the stolen emails that could harm its informants living under dictatorships abroad. Incidentally, the search warrant the FBI had originally served on my apartment and on my mother’s house didn’t even mention Stratfor, but rather listed other firms, such as HBGary Federal and Endgame Systems, whose illegal activities I’d documented — as well as echelon2.org, the wiki on which my team presented our findings (and which has since moved). Judge Sam Lindsay didn’t find any of this suspicious, either.

D Magazine editor Tim Rogers wrote a pretty thorough rundown of the January 2015 sentencing hearing when it happened, and the fact that so many normally staid news organizations of all ideological stripes made the unusual decision to come right out and accuse the Department of Justice of having pursued me solely for my role in exposing illegal programs by state-linked intelligence contractors should be sufficiently telling. But in addition to revelations that the prosecution improperly withheld evidence in my case — something that the government prefers to do when it knows that the presiding judge doesn’t have a handle on what’s going on — it has also now been revealed via the lawsuit filed last week by the head of my legal defense fund that the prosecutor and FBI illicitly forced an online payment firm to provide them with the identities of everyone who contributed to my defense, and arranged to have this information sent via irregular methods — an act that is not only explicitly unconstitutional and disturbing, but also hard to square with the prosecution’s claims, accepted by Judge Lindsay, that this case wasn’t about going after dissent.

And as originally reported in D before my sentencing, the two lead agents on my case also went after the Dallas resident who provided server space to Edward Snowden and claimed in a court filing that he tried to avoid them by jumping over his balcony and running away. As Tim pointed out in that D story, the man, Ladar Levison, actually lived on the upper floor of a high-rise. This didn’t prevent Judge Lindsay from deferring to these same two FBI agents during the sentencing phase, in which a judge has to evaluate the evidence presented to him before making a decision about the fate of a human being.

All in all, Judge Lindsay presided over one of the most widely denounced federal cases in recent memory. And it will look much worse as certain other extraordinary details are made public, a process that began last week with the lawsuit against the Dallas FBI and federal prosecutor and which I expect to continue over the next year. In the meantime, it’s reasonable to ask how many other Dallas residents have been wrongly punished due to Judge Lindsay’s incompetence, and how I go about becoming one of the contestants on The Bachelorette.

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