The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
              FILE - This is a Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. file photo of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks as he speaks to the media and members of the public from a balcony at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange has asked Swedish police to investigate what happened to a suitcase he suspects was stolen from him when he traveled from Sweden to Germany in 2010. Assange

Julian Assange calls for release of Barrett Brown

Gagged and jailed journalist Barrett Brown received a supportive boost on Monday from WikiLeaks and its exiled editor-in-chief, Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks and Assange condemned the U.S. government’s prosecution of Brown, who is most notably recognized for his role as the occasional public face of the hacktivist collective Anonymous. Assange also called for Brown’s release.

Brown, an ardent critic of the surveillance state, has spent a year in jail without trial on charges that include allegedly threatening an FBI agent and allegedly passing on a link to the credit card information and email addresses for the subscribers of the private intelligence firm Stratfor.

Stratfor was hacked by hacktivist Jeremy Hammond in December 2011. Hammond, a member of Anonymous, pleaded guilty to hacking the firm and is currently awaiting sentencing.

Brown, however, is pleading not guilty to the charges he faces and is in jail awaiting trial in Texas.

“[Brown] is being persecuted for critical reporting on the growing surveillance state, for being an outspoken supporter of WikiLeaks and Chelsea Manning, and for being a reporter who spent periods of time embedded with Anonymous,” wrote WikiLeaks.

If convicted, Brown faces up to 105 years in prison. Many journalists fear a conviction could spell a crippling blow to investigative journalism.

The late journalist Michael Hastings, a personal friend of Brown’s, was believed to have been working on a story involving Brown and the private security firms he was investigating before Hastings died in a tragic automobile explosion on June 18.

WikiLeaks likened Brown’s case to the U.S. government’s prosecution of the late Aaron Swartz, calling it “selective and political in nature,” and a step “over the red line in disregard of the First Amendment.”

The Obama administration’s prosecution of Brown “follows a litany of abuses carried out by the administration.”

Those abuses, states the organization, include: “the prosecution of more whistle-blowers for espionage than under all other US presidents combined, the hunt for former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, the seizure of the phone records of Associated Press journalists, the targeting of Fox News reporter James Rosen as a ‘co-conspirator’ and the ‘whole-of-government’ US criminal investigation into the publishing of WikiLeaks.”

Brown and his defense team were recently placed under a federal gag order that forbids them from speaking from even established members of the press about the trial.

“All journalists must stand firm and fight against this chilling attack on Barrett Brown,” said Assange in a statement Monday.