Dana Gottesfeld, the wife of arrested Internet activist Martin Gottesfeld, is appealing to President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ask for his freedom.
Martin Gottesfeld was arrested for a hack attack on the Boston Children’s Hospital in 2014 to protest the hospital’s alleged mistreatment of then 15-year-old Justina Pelletier, who was removed from her parents for 16 months and locked in a psychiatric unit where she was allegedly mistreated.
His efforts helped to draw national attention to the power doctors have to override parental and individual rights.
Tufts Medical Center doctors, who sided with the Pelletiers, said that the girl suffered from a rare mitochondrial disease and pushed for her to undergo a variety of medical treatments to deal with her situation. The state disagreed and took her into custody by housing her in Boston Children’s Hospital.
Speaking to the Boston Globe, Justina said that she was mistreated at the hospital, which was intent on keeping her from her parents. The hospital determined that her myriad health problems were caused by psychiatric issues and that her parents were pushing for her to undergo unnecessary treatment. Justina ended up losing both her legs under the hospital’s treatment plan and is now suing the hospital.
Gottesfeld is facing felony charges of computer hacking and conspiracy relating to his distributed denial-of-service attacks in April 2014 against the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. He allegedly organized an army of Anonymous hacktivists to bombard their websites offline in protest of Justina’s alleged mistreatment at their hands, and to draw national attention to her plight.
Despite his good intentions, Gottesfeld’s actions were most likely illegal. Under the Obama administration, U.S. Attorney Carmon Ortiz launched a prosecution against Gottesfeld to make an example of the hacktivist. Ortiz had previously gone after Reddit co-founder and internet activist Aaron Swartz for downloading free articles from the internet archive JSTOR in bulk—apparently in violation of the site’s terms of service. Facing 50 years imprisonment, Swartz took his own life.
Since Gottesfeld’s arrest, he has been incarcerated in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center for 17 months, the same prison that houses Mexican drug lord El Chapo and Mafia don John Gotti. Both his biological mother and legal adoptive father died during that time.
With Ortiz out of office (she left in December 2016), Dana Gottesfeld is now pleading for Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions to review the case and free her husband, and to instead investigate Justina’s alleged mistreatment at the hospital.
The Daily Caller obtained her letter, which can be found here. She also set up a website to campaign for his release.
“I am asking you as a young wife, unyielding supporter of my husband’s fight against institutional child abuse, and proud American citizen to stop this corrupt persecution of my family,” she wrote. “Instead, please investigate how on Earth Justina was held captive by elite, federally-funded medical institutions whose ‘care’ caused her to suffer severe physical pain and lasting psychological trauma 24 hours per day for over a year, leaving her in a wheelchair more than three years later.”
Her letter makes several allegations against the judge involved in the case, Magistrate Bowler, whom Dana Gottesfeld claims has a conflict of interest in the case. Just as well, she says that Bowler interrupted her husband’s attorney during court proceedings and was “nasty” throughout.
“I urge you to act as boldly as my husband did to right the previous DOJ’s wrongs,” she concluded.
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.