The charges against Barrett Brown for linking were flawed from the very beginning. In response to a rigorous legal challenge mounted by his defense, the government has finally recognized it and signaled that this is a battle they don’t want to fight. I would have liked to see the Court ultimately decide to dismiss the charges, and read the amicus brief planned by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, because that would have set a good precedent for hyperlinks as protected speech. Those legal questions will have to be settled another day in another case. But make no mistake, this is a massive victory for press freedom, for Barrett and everyone who’s supported him over the last year and a half. We’re grateful for the amazing legal work and research of Ahmed Ghappour, Charlie Swift, and Marlo Cadeddu, and I’d like to thank everyone who saw this case for what it is – totally bogus.
Counts 3 through 12 were the most oppressive, because they carried mandatory consecutive sentences. The government’s theory of linking was unreasonable and in fact chilled everyday internet activity. Count 2 in the second indictment remains, but we think that no jury in their right mind would convict Barrett for fraud. It’s the only count for which the government has to prove malicious intent, which he didn’t have. Today, Barrett Brown is one big step closer to being free. His supporters made this possible, and we hope that people will continue to support him moving forward and through his trials.
We are far from declaring ‘mission accomplished’. There’s still a war on for free speech and reporter’s privilege. He still faces 70 years max, including 40 for protecting his sources.
Director, Free Barrett Brown
Update: Here is EFF’s statement on the dismissal.