Sabu (real name Hector Xavier Monsegur), LulzSec’s former head honcho and eventual Benedict Arnold (or the “Milli Vanilli of Anonymous” as one Twitter user suggested), signed off on U.S. district attorney Preet Bharara’s court filing asking for a six-month sentencing delay. By July of 2011, Sabu had been flipped by the feds and set about bringing down LulzSec and Anonymous members in the UK and the US.
“The Government respectfully submits this letter to request a six-month adjournment of the August 22, 2012 sentencing control date set in the above-captioned matter in light of the defendant’s ongoing cooperation,” the court document reads.
This can only mean that Monsegur is still cooperating with authorities, perhaps infiltrating Anonymous IRCs under aliases in order to coax members into actions that will land them in prison.
Entrapment is, of course, illegal. “Government agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person’s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the Government may prosecute.” See Jacobson v. US, 503 U.S. 540, 548 (1992). However, federal authorities are quite adept at leading those who haven’t committed a crime into doing so without actually suggesting the crime.
According to federal criminal lawyer Lewis Gainor:
“Inducement is at least persuasion or mild coercion. See US v. Nations, 764 F.2d 1073, 1080 (5th Cir. 1985). It may also be based on pleas of need, sympathy or friendship… The fact that federal investigators [engage] in deception, lies, subterfuge, or misrepresentation, does not, by itself, establish inducement.”
Meaning, the federal agents puppeteering Sabu are allowed to deceive other Anonymous members, tell lies, use subterfuge and misrepresentation because a defendant will not likely be able to establish “inducement” on those deceptions alone. The defendant also has to prove that he or she was not predisposed to committing a crime—which, with the public perception of Anonymous being what it is (via the framing and messaging crafted by the federal government and the media), would be hard to argue, though not impossible.
Anonymous has shown in a number of instances that there is value to what they do: when a government is paralyzed by corporate donations, corrupt to the core, and largely unwilling to create an open forum for real democracy, then it is up to citizens to unleash information. Thanks to Anonymous, particularly its member Anarchaos (Jeremy Hammond), we now know that Stratfor—a corporation with funding from former Goldman Sachs employee Shea Morenz—was gathering government intelligence to profit globally from insider trading.
Sabu was of course working as an informant and regularly communicating with Hammond before, during and after the Stratfor hack. Does this mean Hammond was a victim of entrapment? Not necessarily, but Sabu’s online presence at the time must have in and of itself acted as a means of encouragement to hack Strafor.
Which is to say that our government is more interested in going after hacktivists than it is in prosecuting the Wall Street criminals who systematically, over the course of two decades and through the dot com and real estate bubbles, tanked the economy in 2007. Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder has done absolutely nothing in the way of bringing these men to justice, but his Justice Department is exceptionally energetic when it comes to Anonymous.
This is the democracy that we live in. It is the dark reward for our lack of vigilance.
Monsegur, who pleaded guilty to 12 federal offenses in March, faces a possible 124-year sentence for amongst other things conspiracy to commit both computer hacking and bank fraud. His cooperation will no doubt whittle the penalty down, though authorities have not yet released the plea deal details.