NEW YORK – Convicted hacker Jeremy Hammond -- who was arrested with information from turncoat hacker Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, as first reported by FoxNews.com -- was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release for illegally accessing computers systems of law enforcement agencies and government contractors.
In an emotional proceeding that lasted more than 2 hours in a Manhattan federal court room on Friday, victims and relatives of Hammond railed against the FBI and shed tears on his behalf following the sentencing. One overwrought person claiming to be a victim was forcibly escorted from the court by officers.
But Hammond likely knew the sentence was coming, his lawyer said.
"When Jeremy took this plea with a 10-year maximum, I think he understood this was very likely the outcome," said Sarah Kunstler, Hammond's defense attorney outside of court house.
'It came as a great surprise to me that Sabu was working for the government the whole time.'
Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska said Hammond's digital handiwork had compromised thousands of people's personal and financial data, including the unpublished phone numbers and addresses of law enforcement, who then received threats. Hammond tried unsuccessfully to argue that his actions were politically motivated, she said.
- A Brief History of the LulzSec Hackers
- EXCLUSIVE: Infamous international hacking group LulzSec brought down by own leader
- EXCLUSIVE: Inside LulzSec, a mastermind turns on his minions
- FBI Arrests Suspected LulzSec and Anonymous Hackers
- Sa-boo! Threat frightens infamous LulzSec hacker out of court appearance
"He claims he did it to expose certain law enforcement policies he opposed ... but his Arizona public safety hack forced the public safety site to shut down its sex offender website, fingerprinting system and amber alert system,” Preska said.
Hammond's lawyers compared his acts of civil disobedience to the Revolutionary War, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. Jeremy spoke directly to the judge prior to the sentencing, again using a similar argument.
“Acts of civil disobedience are in line with the principles of equality that governed my life … I felt I had an obligation to use my skills for justice and bring the truth to light,” he said.
But Judge Preska disagreed with Hammond that his “hacktivism” was a form of civil disobedience.
"These were not the actions of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, John Adams or even Daniel Ellsberg [who handed over the Pentagon Papers],” said Preska in closing. “In his own words, Mr. Hammond had a stated goal of ‘creating maximum mayhem.’”
Among other items, Hammond was found guilty of the Dec. 2011 hack into the computer systems of global intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor. Speaking about that hack, Preska had equally strong words.
“His goal was, citing Hammond's own words at the time, ‘to destroy the target, hoping for bankruptcy, collapse.’"
Hammond, who has been behind bars for the past 20 months and pled guilty in May, said he was introduced to politics when George W. Bush “stole the election in 2000."
“I was following groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous and was particularly moved by the heroic acts of Chelsea Manning,” he said at the hearing. “I was especially interested in the work of Lulzsec, and around this time I started talking to Sabu. Only later did I learn that Sabu had already been arrested.”
In March of 2012, FoxNews.com exclusively revealed the story of how law-enforcement agents on two continents swooped in on top members of the infamous computer hacking group LulzSec, acting largely on evidence gathered by the organization’s brazen leader -- who had been secretly working for the government for months.
“It came as a great surprise to me that Sabu was working for the government the whole time,” Hammond said Friday.