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Free Barrett Brown? New indictment hints at a plea deal

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Federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment on Monday seeking to modify the criminal charges against Barrett Brown, an American journalist who was arrested on Sept. 12, 2012, after allegedly threatening the "life" of an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Adjusting the charges in such a way indicates that federal prosecutors may be negotiating a deal with Brown’s attorneys.

“The latest documents filed in Barrett Brown's case suggest that both sides are negotiating a plea agreement and working to secure a resolution of the case,” Kevin Gallagher, the Director of Free Barrett Brown told the Daily Dot. “It is conventional for parties to modify or consolidate charges ahead of trial, pursuant to a plea deal.”

The new indictment alleges Brown’s involvement as an accessory to the hacking of Stratfor, a private intelligence firm, for which Jeremy Hammond was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 10 years incarceration.

The U.S. government claims that Brown knowingly hindered the apprehension of a hacker identified by the motion only as “o”—a nickname Hammond used when interacting with Brown during online chats. Additionally, the motion claims that Brown assisted Hammond specifically by creating “confusion regarding the identity of the hacker.” Brown also communicated with representatives of Stratfor, the government said, "in a manner that diverted attention" away from Hammond.

Last month, Brown’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds that the government had failed to substantiate allegations of criminal activity. The following day, federal prosecutors dropped 11 charges against Brown related to the sharing of stolen Stratfor data online. Several other charges remained, however, including a separate indictment for threats against an FBI agent and for concealing evidence (his laptop), which carried a maximum sentence of 70 years incarceration.

The superseding indictment includes a second count, obstructing the execution of a search warrant, which differs from the previous charge of concealing evidence.

“We are hopeful that he will receive time served, and indeed we find it likely that he will,” Gallagher said. “What remains against him is not worth much more than the 19 months he's already served.”

Read the full indictment:

Barrett Brown - Superseding Indictment

Illustration by Jason Reed