Jeremy Hammond Ruled in Contempt of Federal Grand Jury

via Unicorn Riot

Eastern District of Virginia — Imprisoned Anarchist hacker Jeremy Hammond was ruled in contempt of court today by U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga for refusing to testify in front of a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA).

Hammond was recently transferred from the Federal Correctional Institution in Memphis, Tennessee to the EDVA. Due to the secrecy of jury proceedings, it is unknown what the federal grand jury is investigating or why they are seeking testimony from Hammond.

At the same time, informed observers widely suspect this is the same grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange, and its previous sources. Judge Trenga, who ruled on today’s court hearings, has also presided over the grand jury proceedings of Chelsea Manning, a different WikiLeaks source, also held in contempt for refusing to testify in front of a grand jury. Manning continues to be detained for refusing to testify.

Being held in contempt for refusing to testify in front of a grand jury is not a criminal charge. As noted by a previous Unicorn Riot report, typically grand juries are used to investigate crimes, sit for approximately eighteen months on the findings, and then recommend charges which are filed under seal.

Hammond pleaded guilty in 2013 to hacking a defense contractor named Stratfor as part of the Anonymous-linked hacking crew known as LulzSec. It is unclear what, if anything, the EDVA federal grand jury is investigating but based on his Anarchist principles Hammond has refused to testify in any capacity. Attorneys for Hammond have attempted to raise to Judge Trenga that Hammond would not testify and holding him in contempt would not compel his testimony.

It is a common defense strategy in grand jury resistance, known as Grumbles motion, to raise that holding a grand jury resistor any further will not compel their testimony. Previous resistors have been held for over 250 days. Judge Trenga dismissed that motion in his ruling earlier today. In a statement uploaded to the internet, his solidarity network stated,

Due to the secretive nature of grand juries, we do not know what his sanctions for contempt may be. We also do not know what questions the grand jury is investigating. We do know, however, is that the federal sentence he was serving for which he was due to be released from just two short months from now, will be suspended.” — Hammond Support Network

As noted by the solidarity network, Hammond was due for release in December of this year. Now he will be held in civil contempt, meaning his federal criminal sentence will be suspended, which may mean spending as long as an additional 18 months in jail for the contempt charge.

Hammond has already lost access to a federal program known as Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) which would have reduced his criminal sentence by 9 months.

A reporter for Unicorn Riot was asked present in the Courthouse and was removed by the bailiff because the proceedings were “sealed by the grand jury.” The bailiff briefly allowed in three federal agents stated that they were with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. After a brief conference with the Department of Justice lawyers present, the agents where also removed.

After an approximately 30 minute conference, Judge Trenga opened the court and rule to hold Hammond in civil contempt. The three FBI agents sat in on the court proceedings but did not speak. Judge Trenga stated, “On September 12th, Hammond appeared in front of the grand jury and refused to answer seven questions.” Judge Trenga also stated that today, Hammond was asked again to testify. “The grand jury convened today and Hammond has refused to testify in front of the grand jury.” Trenga also stated that “it is the basic obligation of a citizen to appear in front of a grand jury and testify.”

It is unclear how long the court will hold Hammond in contempt, only stated he will be confined until “such time he purges or the end of the life of the grand jury”. Practically speaking, this means the court could hold him for eighteen months, the length of the grand jury, or until he agrees to testify.

Following the Judge’s ruling, he asked for a sidebar with the four Department of Justice lawyers. During this time, the court projected white noise to prevent eavesdropping. Asked by the defense if the sidebar would be made available to the defense, Trenga responded “No.”

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Jeremy Hammond Issues Statement Explaining Why He is Resisting the EDVA Grand Jury

“As many of you know, I was just a few months from my scheduled release from federal prison when I was unexpectedly dragged in chains and planes to this raggedy detention center in Alexandria, Virginia. I am outraged that the government is threatening additional jail time if I do not cooperate with their grand jury investigation. Their draconian intimidation tactics could never coerce me into betraying my comrades or my principles. In the spirit of resistance and with great contempt for their system, I am choosing silence over freedom.

“I am fully prepared for the consequences of my decision just as I have been each and every time I was faced with similar choices before. Long ago when I realized that government and capitalism were too hopelessly corrupt and unjust to be reformed through legal or electoral means, I chose to engage in civil disobedience and direct action. I knew then that my actions could land me behind bars, yet I fought on anyway; after a dozen arrests and even a prior federal prison sentence for hacking, I chose once again to use my computer skills to attack the systems of the rich and powerful as part of the Anonymous federal case I am doing time for today.

“When I pled guilty, I took responsibility for my actions and my actions alone. I never agreed to be debriefed or testify in any way, unlike the government’s informant Hector Monsegur, aka Sabu, whose reward was one year of probation while I received the maximum sentence allowable by law. It was a painful choice, but ten years in their dungeons was the price I was willing to pay so I could maintain my integrity. I have never regretted my choices the entire time I have been incarcerated, and having seen and experienced first-hand the abuses and inherent injustice of the prison industrial complex, my commitment to revolution and abolition has only become more deeply entrenched.

“Now, after seven and a half years of ‘paying my debt to society,’ the government seeks to punish me further with this vindictive, politically-motivated legal maneuver to delay my release, knowing full well that I would never cooperate with their witch hunt. I am opposed to all grand juries, but I am opposed to this one in particular because it is part of the government’s ongoing war on free speech, journalists, and whistleblowers. I am insulted that those in power claim that I have an “obligation that every citizen owes his government” to testify. As an anarchist, I am not part of their social contract, and do not recognize the legitimacy of their laws and courts. Instead, I believe in a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote I had taped to the wall of my prison cell for years: ‘One has an obligation to disobey unjust laws.’

“It is difficult to view any of this governments’ laws as just when they are so selectively enforced, and when the government turns a blind eye to its own misconduct, misconduct that is on display every day that Trump is in the White House. In my case, the government, through its informant, Sabu, instigated numerous hacks, asking me to break into governments and companies all over the world. Nearly a decade later, this misconduct remains ignored. The NSA continues to surveil everyone and launch cyber attacks. Trump and his corrupt cronies continue to hold the world hostage to their megalomaniacal imperialist pig whims while simultaneously refusing to comply with subpoenas and inquiries into their vicious abuses of power. Meanwhile, Chelsea Manning and I are doing hard time in this dump for the “crime” of refusing to allow our spirits to break, after “serving” our sentences for exposing government and corporate corruption.

“This absurd hypocrisy and desperate ruthlessness reveals a crumbling legal system, a system that has robbed me of the majority of my adult life but could never take my humanity. I will continue to do the right thing, no matter how long it takes. I know how to do time, and I will never be intimidated by their threats. Ever!! I refuse!!

“‘Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch, we are free.” – Alan Moore, V for Vendetta”


Imprisoned Activist Jeremy Hammond found in Contempt for Failure to Testify Before Federal Grand Jury in the EDVA

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