US ‘Assange hunt’ chokes air for whistleblowers

March 27, 2012

RT on March 27, 2012 released the following:

“Washington’s relentless pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and alleged whistle-blower Bradley Manning, is no secret. But the fate of the two men has got US journalists worried, that they too could soon find themselves behind bars.

Julian Assange’s life resembles a game of chess. He is an Australian citizen in the custody of Britain fighting extradition to Sweden. But no one wants the king of WikiLeaks more than America. Washington has had secret plans for Assange since at least January 2011.

Ironically, the secret was uncovered earlier this month after five million confidential emails from the global intelligence company Stratfor were published by WikiLeaks.

“It’s done frequently when a defendant is outside the US. They’ll get an indictment, which is secret. They’ll seal the charging document of the indictment. They will ask for an arrest warrant and that will also be sealed. That way, the US stands behind a big large boulder, if you will, and then jumps out from that boulder and arrests someone,” says Douglas McNabb, federal criminal defense attorney and extradition expert.

Under house arrest for more than a year, Assange has not been charged with any crime in any country, though Sweden wants to question him over sex-related allegations. The US meanwhile, is determined to punish the forty-year old.

Apparently, it is payback for exposing confidential cables repeatedly shaming America by shining a spotlight on illegalities in overseas military operations and on some embarrassing tactics and opinions from the State Department.

Washington says publishing the documents has created a national security risk. The Justice Department has reportedly mounted an unprecedented investigation into WikiLeaks, aimed at prosecuting Assange under the espionage act.

“They’re going to continue going after Mr. Assange to make a point that we’re tough and we’re not going to let anybody threaten America, whether it’s Al-Qaeda or it’s an Australian national,” believes journalist James Moore.

And some say they’ll go to any lengths to make the point.

“The US government within the federal arena likes to charge others – that have either aided and abetted or assisted or were full blown co-conspirators – likes to go after those in order to flip them. To get them to co-operate with the US government against the major players, in this case Mr. Assange,” McNabb says.

The US is now apparently working on flipping none other than Private Bradley Manning. The US soldier is facing 22 federal charges for allegedly leaking 700,000 documents and videos to WikiLeaks. He’s one of six Americans, the Obama administration has charged with espionage.

“If one of those cases makes it to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court upholds the Espionage Act as an act which essentially criminalizes any whistleblower, anybody who exposes war crimes, anybody who challenges the official narrative of the lies of the state, then that’s it. Because that would mean that any leaker could automatically be sent to prison for life. And at that point any idea of freedom of information is over. We will only know what the state wants us to know,” Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author told RT.

“It’s supposed to be about protecting the national security of the United States. But that is not the way the journalism industry will view it. They will view it as being a message to them. ‘Be careful who you talk to. Be careful what you write because you can be next.’ I think a number of reporters will say ‘I am not risking it,’” Moore believes.

Critics say the Obama administration’s unprecedented “war on whistleblowers” may ultimately deliver a death sentence to freedom of the press in the US. If people and or publishers are criminally convicted and jailed for exposing the truth, more journalists may prefer to abandon First Amendment privileges and reserve the right to remain silent.

Julian Assange’s show ‘The World Tomorrow’ is to premiere on RT later this month.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Was Anonymous’ Hacker-Informant Sabu A Tool Of FBI Entrapment?

March 7, 2012

Forbes on March 7, 2012 released the following:

“Andy Greenberg, Forbes Staff

In a typical criminal conspiracy takedown, lower-level minions are flipped to inform on a crime syndicate’s boss. But in the investigation of LulzSec, the hacker splinter group that broke off from Anonymous last summer, the FBI seems to have found a snitch in none other than the conspiracy’s ringleader and organizer, the 28-year-old hacker known as Sabu.

Which raises a strange question: As the FBI worked to take down the radical hacktivist group over the last months, was it also egging it on?

Yesterday it was revealed that Hector Xavier Monsegur, the alleged hacker known as Sabu, had been acting as a government informant since as early as last June, helping to provide the FBI with information that led to three more arrests of alleged LulzSec-related hackers yesterday, along with new charges against two of the other related defendants. The help of the Spanish-speaking Monsegur may have even aided the arrest of 25 other alleged members of Anonymous in Spain and South America late last month.

But criminal defense lawyers for those accused hackers are no doubt poring over his communications with their clients, and looking for evidence of entrapment: the defense that the U.S. government, with an influential member of Anonymous as their pawn, pushed hackers into the same illegal acts for which they’re now prosecuting them.

Months after Monsegur began cooperating with law enforcement, his Twitter feed (with 45,000 followers) continued to rally his hacktivist “brothers” to attack governments and private corporate targets. A message he wrote in late December asked for fellow hackers to give him stolen documents so that they could be published under the banner of “Antisec,” the sub-movement against the security industry in which he was a vocal organizer. “Leakers, security researchers or hackers who have vulnerabilities or leaked docs contact us,” Monsegur wrote.

After the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in January, he called for hacking attacks on Israel. “Since #israel started the week by blowing up Iranian nuclear scientists – how about we focus on disrupting their infrastructure?” he wrote to his followers.

As recently as last month, Monsegur was inciting attacks on Interpol in retaliation for arrests of his fellow anons. “Hackers of the world: Interpol has declared war on hackers,” he wrote. “Time to strike back. Infiltrate.” The denial of service attack on Interpol’s website that followed took the site down for around half an hour.“

And perhaps most significantly, Monsegur seems to have taken an active part in the attack on the private intelligence think tank Stratfor, whose millions of stolen emails are now being released by WikiLeaks. In fact, the indictment of 27-year old Chicagoan Jeremy Hammond, unsealed Tuesday, states that an informant under the name Cooperative Witness One or “CW-1″ in New York convinced Hammond to move stolen Stratfor data to a server that the informant provided. Given that there are no other indicted members of LulzSec in New York, CW-1 is no doubt Monsegur.

In other conversations between Monsegur and Hammond included in the indictment–and there’s no telling what Monsegur may have said that wasn’t quote by prosecutors–Monsegur explicitly encourages illegal hacking and disclosure of stolen info.

“Wanna release that list of 92% cracked Stratfor hashes?” he asks Hammond at one point. Hammond replies to Monsegur that it’s “Your call.”

“If I get raided anarchaos your job is to cause havok in my honor,” Monsegur tells Hammond later, using one of the hacker’s pseudonyms.

“It shall be so,” Hammond responds.

Whether this kind of encouragement and support for illegal hacking rises to the level of entrapment, however, is far from clear, says Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Hanni Fakhoury. The legal definition of entrapment hinges on two separate issues: Inducement and predisposition. To meet the “inducement” requirement, the government must be actively “authorizing, directing or supervising” the defendant’s criminal behavior. And to pass the second criteria, the defendant has to be shown to have not had a predisposition to commit that crime without the government’s encouragement.

Fakhoury cautions that the case for any defendant associated with Monsegur would depend on the specific facts of that person’s behavior and communications with Monsegur. But he believes the first element of entrapment may strongly apply in some of the indicted hackers’ cases, while the predisposition case will be more difficult to argue. “I think inducement is pretty clear here,” says Fakhoury. “The government knew what [Monsegur] was doing. Much harder will be proving pre-disposition: that the defendants weren’t already predisposed to engage in that [illegal] behavior.”

Given that members of Anonymous often openly discuss their motivations and gain status in the group by acting on their own initiative, prosecutors may have an easy time showing that any defendants in Monsegur’s circle were already predisposed to hacking. “They’re pretty vocal about their tactics and their policies and what they want to do,” says Fakhoury. “A traditional entrapment case is someone who’s pressured into something. These individuals aren’t usually pressured, and they often make statements like ‘This is why I’m involved in Anonymous and this is what I’m doing.’”

In other areas, particularly domestic terrorism, the FBI has been known to weave complex scenarios around suspects to actively tempt them into committing crimes. In the case of the “Newburgh Five,” a group of New York men charged with plotting to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military airplanes, the FBI informant in many respects functioned as the primary organizer of the plot, offering to supply the group with its explosives, a BMW, a $250,000 payment. As for the “terrorists” themselves, they were hardly capable of carrying out the attack on their own: None even had a driver’s license.

In another case, two activists at the Republican National Convention were arrested and convicted on terrorism charges for making Molotov cocktails. As laid out in the recent documentary “Better This World,” the pair had been mentored in radical activism for over a year by a well-known activist-turned-FBI-informant who encouraged them to abandon more pacificist measures.

Despite cases like these, none of the 10 terrorism prosecutions involving informants over the last decade has successfully used an entrapment defense. “In short, if a suspicion of entrapment seems a viable starting-point for a defense, forget it,” attorney Karen Greenberg wrote in an editorial in the Guardian. “Find another strategy with which to defend your client.”

In the case of Monsegur, the EFF’s Fakhoury says the case does indeed smell “fishy.” ”Is the government manufacturing crime in order to prevent it?” he asks. “Something about it definitely doesn’t seem right.”

And whether or not an entrapment defense will win out for any of Monsegur’s fellow hackers, Fakhoury expects the issue to appear in their upcoming trials. “I don’t think this will necessarily be that successful a defense,” he says. “But it’s one that should absolutely be raised by any good defense attorney.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


EXCLUSIVE: Infamous international hacking group LulzSec brought down by own leader

March 6, 2012

Fox News on March 6, 2012 released the following:

“By Jana Winter

EXCLUSIVE: Law enforcement agents on two continents swooped in on top members of the infamous computer hacking group LulzSec early this morning, and acting largely on evidence gathered by the organization’s brazen leader — who sources say has been secretly working for the government for months — arrested three and charged two more with conspiracy.

Charges against four of the five were based on a conspiracy case filed in New York federal court, FoxNews.com has learned. An indictment charging the suspects, who include two men from Great Britain, two from Ireland and an American in Chicago, is expected to be unsealed Tuesday morning in the Southern District of New York.

“This is devastating to the organization,” said an FBI official involved with the investigation. “We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.”

The offshoot of the loose network of hackers, Anonymous, believed to have caused billions of dollars in damage to governments, international banks and corporations, was allegedly led by a shadowy figure FoxNews.com has identified as Hector Xavier Monsegur. Working under the Internet alias “Sabu,” the unemployed, 28-year-old father of two allegedly commanded a loosely organized, international team of perhaps thousands of hackers from his nerve center in a public housing project on New York’s Lower East Side. After the FBI unmasked Monsegur last June, he became a cooperating witness, sources told FoxNews.com.

“They caught him and he was secretly arrested and now works for the FBI,” a source close to Sabu told FoxNews.com.

Monsegur pleaded guilty Aug. 15 to 12 hacking-related charges and information documenting his admissions is expected to be unsealed in Southern District Court on Tuesday.

As a result of Monsegur’s cooperation, which was confirmed by numerous senior-level officials, the remaining top-ranking members of LulzSec were arrested or hit with additional charges Tuesday morning. The five charged in the LulzSec conspiracy indictment expected to be unsealed were identified by sources as: Ryan Ackroyd, aka “Kayla” and Jake Davis, aka “Topiary,” both of London; Darren Martyn, aka “pwnsauce” and Donncha O’Cearrbhail, aka “palladium,” both of Ireland; and Jeremy Hammond aka “Anarchaos,” of Chicago.

Hammond was arrested on access device fraud and hacking charges and is believed to have been the main person behind the devastating December hack on U.S. security company Stratfor. Millions of emails were stolen and then published on Wikileaks; credit card numbers and other confidential information were also stolen, law enforcement sources told FoxNews.com.

The sources said Hammond will be charged in a separate indictment, and they described him as a member of Anonymous.

The others are all suspected members of LulzSec, the group that has wreaked havoc on U.S. and foreign government agencies, including the CIA and FBI, numerous defense contractors, financial and governmental entities and corporations including Fox and Sony.

Ackroyd, who is suspected of using the online handle “Kayla,” is alleged to be Monsegur’s top deputy. Among other things, Kayla identified vulnerabilities in the U.S. Senate’s computer systems and passed the information on to Sabu. Kayla was expected to be taken into custody on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the Southern District and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined comment.
Monsegur’s attorney did not return FoxNews.com’s repeated requests for comment.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Revealed: US plans to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

February 28, 2012

The Sydney Morning Herald on February 29, 2012 released the following:

“Revealed: US plans to charge Assange

Philip Dorling

UNITED STATES prosecutors have drawn up secret charges against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, according to a confidential email obtained from the private US intelligence company Stratfor.

In an internal email to Stratfor analysts on January 26 last year, the vice-president of intelligence, Fred Burton, responded to a media report concerning US investigations targeting WikiLeaks with the comment: ”We have a sealed indictment on Assange.”

He underlined the sensitivity of the information – apparently obtained from a US government source – with warnings to ”Pls [please] protect” and ”Not for pub[lication]”.

Mr Burton is well known as an expert on security and counterterrorism with close ties to the US intelligence and law enforcement agencies. He is the former deputy chief of the counter-terrorism division of the US State Department’s diplomatic security service.

Stratfor, whose headquarters are in Austin, Texas, provides intelligence and analysis to corporate and government subscribers.

On Monday, WikiLeaks began releasing more than 5 million Stratfor emails which it said showed ”how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients”.

The Herald has secured access to the emails through an investigative partnership with WikiLeaks.

The news that US prosecutors drew up a secret indictment against Mr Assange more than 12 months ago comes as the Australian awaits a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden to be questioned in relation to sexual assault allegations.

Mr Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in Sweden, fears extradition to Stockholm will open the way for his extradition to the US on possible espionage or conspiracy charges in retaliation for WikiLeaks’s publication of thousands of leaked US classified military and diplomatic reports.

Last week the US Army Private Bradley Manning was committed to face court martial for 22 alleged offences, including ”aiding the enemy” by leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks.

In December the Herald revealed Australian diplomatic cables, declassified under freedom of information, confirmed WikiLeaks was the target of a US Justice Department investigation ”unprecedented both in its scale and nature” and suggested that media reports that a secret grand jury had been convened in Alexandria, Virginia, were ”likely true”.

The Australian embassy in Washington reported in December 2010 that the Justice Department was pursuing an ”active and vigorous inquiry into whether Julian Assange can be charged under US law, most likely the 1917 Espionage Act”.

In recent answers to written parliamentary questions from the Greens senator Scott Ludlam, the former foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd indicated Australia had sought confirmation that a secret grand jury inquiry directed against Mr Assange was under way.

Mr Rudd said ”no formal advice” had been received from US authorities but acknowledged the existence of a ”temporary surrender” mechanism that could allow Mr Assange to be extradited from Sweden to the US. He added that Swedish officials had said Mr Assange’s case would be afforded ”due process”.

The US government has repeatedly declined to confirm or deny any reported details of the WikiLeaks inquiry, beyond the fact that an investigation is being pursued.

The Stratfor emails show that the WikiLeaks publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables triggered intense discussion within the ”global intelligence” company.

In the emails, an Australian Stratfor ”senior watch officer”, Chris Farnham, advocated revoking Mr Assange’s Australian citizenship, adding: ”I don’t care about the other leaks but the ones he has made that potentially damage Australian interests upset me. If I thought I could switch this dickhead off without getting done I don’t think I’d have too much of a problem.”

But Mr Farnham also referred to a conversation with a close family friend who he said knew one of the Swedish women who had made allegations of sexual assault against Mr Assange, and added: ”There is absolutely nothing behind it other than prosecutors that are looking to make a name for themselves.”

While some Stratfor analysts decried what they saw as Mr Assange’s ”clear anti-Americanism”, others welcomed the leaks and debated WikiLeaks’s longer-term impact on secret diplomacy and intelligence.

Stratfor’s director of analysis, Reva Bhalla, observed: ”WikiLeaks itself may struggle to survive but the idea that’s put out there, that anyone with the bandwidth and servers to support such a system can act as a prime outlet of leaks. [People] are obsessed with this kind of stuff. The idea behind it won’t die.”

Stratfor says it will not comment on the emails obtained by WikiLeaks. The US embassy has also declined to comment.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.