After a year and ½ in jail awaiting trial, the writer/journalist Barrett Brown, best known for his previous association with Anonymous, through his defense team has reportedly reached an agreement with the government to plea guilty to some modified counts. Full details are not available since the documents are sealed.
This marks a big step towards resolution of a tangled and complex case, implicating the First Amendment in numerous ways, which originally began when the FBI executed search warrants at his and his mother’s homes in March 2012.
Since he was arrested, Brown has maintained his innocence, and originally pleaded not guilty to all of the counts against him.
The director of his legal defense fund, Kevin Gallagher, said: “The Barrett Brown who I know and call my friend has never been one to compromise with the government. But in this instance, I think he recognizes that taking this case before a jury in conservative Texas is a needless roll of the dice. In fact, I think this whole thing would have been settled long ago, if not for the fact that the government had filed excessive and meritless charges which they later dropped. I’m pleased that the parties were able to reach this agreement. Although in principle he shouldn’t have to plea to anything, this spares everyone the spectacle of a costly trial, and the bottom line is that Barrett will be coming home – as he’s already served 19 months unnecessarily.”
In motions filed with the Court, Brown’s defense made a very strong case for dismissal, which combined with negative publicity surrounding the prosecution of a non-violent writer/journalist who caused no actual harm, perhaps influenced the government to seek to settle.
WIRED is reporting that the maximum statutory sentence he could face between both of his cases “would likely be five years”.