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WikiLeaks-Connected Hacker Called to Testify Before Grand Jury That Chelsea Manning Was Jailed for Defying


LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 11: Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates court on April 11, 2019 in London, England. After weeks of speculation Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by Scotland Yard Police Officers inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in Central London this morning. Ecuador’s President, Lenin Moreno, withdrew Assange’s Asylum after seven years citing repeated violations to international conventions. 

A WikiLeaks-connected convicted hacker has been moved from a federal prison to the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), it is believed, to testify before the same grand jury that Chelsea Manning was jailed for defying.

Jeremy Hammond, the Jeremy Hammond Support Committee said in a Tuesday press release, was moved last week from Memphis, Tennessee to EDVA after being “called against his will to testify before a Federal Grand Jury.” As the group noted, Hammond is serving out a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to hacking Stratfor Global Intelligence. WikiLeaks came into possession of hacked emails related to this.

The group said that Hammond had expected to be released from prison by mid-December, but now fears that stay behind bars will be extended indefinitely, since Hammond has no plans to testify. In other words, he may end up in a similar situation as the aforementioned Manning.

Manning, you may remember, was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury EDVA and refused to do so. She has been jailed ever since. The government wanted Manning to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The subpoena came after the Department of Justice announced that Assange was being charged for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, and alleged that Assange helped Manning hack government computers, tried to hide Manning’s role in leaks, and encouraged Manning to do more leaking. Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, was previously convicted of violating the Espionage Act by disclosing thousands of “classified (and unclassified but ‘sensitive’) documents” to WikiLeaks.

Hammond’s supporters said they were sad and angry that he is being put in this position, despite previously pleading guilty to “put an end to the case against him” and to avoid cooperating with the government.

“It’s with great sadness and anger we announce that Jeremy Hammond is being brought to the Eastern District of Virginia in an effort to compel him to testify before a grand jury. Given the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, we don’t know the nature or scope of the grand jury’s investigation,” the group said. “However, our assumption is that this the same grand jury that Chelsea Manning is currently being incarcerated for refusing to testify before.”

“Jeremy pled guilty to put an end to the case against him. He pled guilty because he had no interest in cooperating with the government. He was sentenced to 10 years —the maximum allowed under his plea agreement— and has been serving his time, counting down to the day that he will finally be free,” the group continued. “That day was supposed to come in mid-December of 2019.”

Hammond’s supporters described this move by the government as “punitive and mean-spirited.”

“Jeremy has spent nearly 10 years in prison because of his commitment to his firmly held beliefs. There is no way that he would ever testify before a grand jury. The government knew this when they gave him immunity in every federal jurisdiction in exchange for his guilty plea,” they said. ” In bringing him against his will to the Eastern District of Virginia, the government has put an end to his participation in the RDAP drug program, effectively adding a year to his sentence.”

[Image via Jack Taylor/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.