Government moves to drop troubling charges facing Barrett Brown

A number of charges facing the activist journalist would set worrying precedent for free speech protections

Published March 5, 2014 7:37PM (EST)

Barrett Brown  (Twitter)
Barrett Brown (Twitter)

The U.S. Attorney's office filed a motion of Wednesday to dismiss a tranche of the swathe of charges facing hacktivist journalist Barrett Brown. Were they to carry through, a number of charges facing Brown relating to his posting of a hyperlink to hacked material would have set a dangerous precedent, aligning journalism and information sharing with cybercrime. While the government moved to dismiss 11 of the 17 charges facing Brown -- the Texas-based onetime self-appointed Anonymous spokesman -- significantly reducing a potential 105-year-sentence.

It's important to note that while seeing these charges dropped against Brown was a crucial victory for his legal team and anyone concerned with First Amendment protections, Brown's persecution by the government for journalist acts continue to reflect a dangerous moment in the state's ongoing demand for hegemonic control over information potential of significant public interest.

As the Dallas Morning News reported:

On Tuesday, Brown’s defense team filed a 48-page motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming the government failed to show any proof that Brown committed a crime.

The defense motion said the link Brown posted had already been made public, and that the government’s case was a clear violation of the Constitutional right of free speech.

“The activities prohibited include those of everyday members of the public desiring to conduct research on the Internet, cyber security researchers who wish to analyze and prevent cyber-attacks and journalists who wish to perform routine press activities such as newsgathering and verification of sources,” said defense attorney Ahmed Ghappour in the motion.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

MORE FROM Natasha Lennard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Activism Anonymous Barrett Brown First Amendment Free Speech Hacking Hacktivism U.s. Attorney