by Barrett Brown from the DailyBeast.Co,
Not long ago I was a mild-mannered freelance journalist, activist, and satirist, contributing to outlets like the Guardian and Vanity Fair. But last Thursday I was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison in a case that Reporters Without Borders cited as a key factor in its reduction of America’s press freedom rankings from 33 to 46. As inconvenient as this is for me, the upside is that for the first time in the two and a half years since I was arrested, I am at last able to speak freely about what has been happening to me and why—and what it means for the press and the republic as a whole.
A portion of my sentence stems from an attempt I made to conceal from the government the identities of certain contacts of mine: pro-democracy activists living under Middle Eastern dictatorships such as Bahrain, with which the U.S. is known to share intelligence on such things. Another large chunk is due to an admittedly ill-conceived public threat I made—in the midst of opiate withdrawal and what court psychologists say was a manic state brought on by medication issues—to investigate and humiliate an F.B.I. agent, who had himself threatened to indict my mother in an attempt to get me to cooperate against individuals associated with the Anonymous movement (my mother was indeed charged). Though I clearly stated that my intent was not violent, the prosecution claimed that my “victim,” Dallas-based Special Agent Robert Smith, had reason to fear that I might physically harm him and even his children…read more