Jeremy Hammond is an alleged member of LulzSec, a hacker group that is part of the hacktivist collective Anonymous. He is accused of hacking the servers of Strategic Forecasting and collecting thousands of emails, credit card numbers and sensitive information about the intelligence firm’s customers. Hammond is currently being held without bail and he is facing 360 months to life in prison if convicted on all the charges filed by the Federal government.
Supporters of Hammond are incensed over several issues concerning the case. The Chicago resident has already been held for eight months without bail and he will not appear for trial until sometime next year. There is also a serious question about the impartiality of the judge assigned to the case, Judge Loretta Preska.
Preska is well known as the trial judge in the case of Somali pirate Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse and she heard the plea of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first prisoner from Guantanamo tried in US civilian court. The judge’s husband, Thomas J. Kavaler, was a customer of Strategic Forecasters and his company had valuable files stolen.
According to information released by LulzSec, Kavaler may be eligible for payments from a class action lawsuit in the case and that raises serious questions about Preska’s ability to conduct a fair trial. Strategic Forecasting has already paid out close to two million dollars to clients affected by the security breech.
Anonymous published a press release in support of Hammond and demanding that Preska recuse herself from the case:
“Judge Preska by proxy is a victim of the very crime she intends to judge Jeremy Hammond for. Judge Preska has failed to disclose the fact that her husband is a client of Stratfor and recuse herself from Jeremy’s case, therefore violating multiple sections of Title 28 of the United States Code.”
“Judge Loretta Preska’s impartiality is compromised by her husband’s involvement with Stratfor and a clear prejudice against Hammond exists, as evident by her statements. Without justice being freely, fully, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected.”
Hammond was arrested based on information given to the FBI by Hector Xavier Monsegur, a New York hacker and member of LulzSec, who went by the alias of Sabu. Mr. Monsegur had been arrested by the FBI months earlier and his cooperation led to the arrest of several members of LulzSec and Anonymous.
The arrest of Jeremy Hammond took place in March of 2012 after he allegedly uploaded the files from Strategic Forecasting, also known as Stratfor, to a honey pot server maintained by the FBI. The government also alleges that Hammond admitted to stealing Stratfor’s data in online chats with their informant.
At last week’s bail hearing Hammond was denied bail as a flight risk and a danger to the community. The defendant has never been issued a passport and he was recently added to the Terrorist Watch List, according to Sue Crabtree, a member of the Jeremy Hammond Solidarity Network and a spectator at his bail hearing.
“In the end, Jeremy was denied bail because he was deemed a flight risk and more dangerous than [a] sexual predator. And yes, if you are asking yourself if this was said, it was said. Jeremy’s legal team stated they would appeal this denial of bail.”
Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said the denial of bail is “very disturbing” and “legally wrong.”
“The bigger story is what they’ve done in this country to Jeremy Hammond, Bradley Manning, and what they have proposed to do to Julian Assange, and that’s really say that they’re going to come down as heavily as they can on people who expose government secrets, whistleblowers.”