October 4, 2015
Barrett Brown Restitution Fund coming up short
By Mark Wachtler
October 4, 2015. Fort Worth, TX. (ONN) Barrett Brown is the journalist who faced 100 years in prison for publishing a news article. Those charges were eventually dropped after a worldwide outcry. But Brown was also convicted of threatening an FBI agent and causing financial harm to the notorious spy corporation Stratfor. He was ordered to pay just under $1 million in restitution. Even with the help of fellow free speech activists, efforts to raise funds for Barrett are falling short.
The Courage Foundation and Free Barrett Brown are raising funds to pay part of Brown’s restitution to spy corporation Stratfor.
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The Courage Foundation
‘US journalist and satirist Barrett Brown is the Courage Foundation’s fifth beneficiary,’ read a joint announcement by Free Barrett Brown and the Courage Foundation, ‘Brown is currently serving a 63-month sentence after being persecuted for his work. In 2012, the FBI raided his house, and later that year Barrett was indicted on 12 federal charges relating to the 2011 Stratfor hack. The most controversial charge, linking to the hacked documents, was dropped, but in 2015 Brown was still sentenced to prison. Courage will collect funds for Brown, who owes more than $890,000 in restitution and who needs money for commissary in prison and for lingering legal costs. Our first campaign is a $5,000 fund drive, which would cover two years of his restitution payments.’
According to the UK-based Courage Foundation’s website, ‘The Courage Foundation is an international organization that supports those who risk life or liberty to make significant contributions to the historical record. We fundraise for the legal and public defense of specific individuals who fit these criteria and are subject to serious prosecution or persecution. We also campaign for the protection of truthtellers and the public’s right to know generally.’
As mentioned, Barrett Brown is the fifth person to receive fundraising help from the Courage Foundation. The first four were Edward Snowden, Jeremy Hammond, Matt DeHart, and Emin Huseynov. ‘Additionally,’ the joint announcement continued, ‘Courage will update the public on Brown’s condition – he is currently in solitary confinement for an indeterminate length of time but continues to write his column and will soon report for The Intercept.’
About Barrett Brown
In the words of the men and women leading the effort to Free Barrett Brown, readers can catch a glimpse of just who and what the independent journalist is to the free speech movement.
WikiLeaks founder and Courage Foundation Trustee Julian Assange said, “Barrett Brown’s five-year prison sentence for exposing Bank of America’s corporate espionage campaign against WikiLeaks is the most odious domestic example of Obama’s war on journalism. But far from letting this imprisonment grind him down, every day is making Barrett’s pen sharper. Slowly but surely, and entirely against its will, the Obama administration’s profound injustice is producing America’s greatest living satirist. Anyone who cares about justice and sharp writing is obliged to support Barrett Brown.”
The Courage Foundation’s Acting Director Sarah Harrison said, “Barrett Brown’s sentence is a scar on a country that likes to pride itself on a free press. Brown is an excellent journalist who has exposed corrupt and illegal practices. He should be rewarded, not punished. I am pleased to be able to support someone whose work for the public record I admire so much.”
And longtime friend of Whiteout Press and the coordinator of the Free Barrett Brown campaign and website, Kevin Gallagher, said of Brown, “While Barrett serves the remainder of his sentence and continues to produce brilliant and hilarious dispatches from his prison cell, I am very grateful to be working with the Courage Foundation on finding new ways to support him. Courage has recognized that Brown’s work on crowd-sourcing the investigation of leaks and his related activism was pioneering and important, and represents the true reason for his imprisonment.”
Efforts coming up short
Three months ago, the Courage Foundation and the Free Barrett Brown team launched the fundraising effort to raise $5,000 for Barrett Brown. The money was to go to paying off two years worth of Brown’s court-ordered restitution to Stratfor. Without any help, Barrett is forced to pay $200 a month for the rest of his life. The goal is to free him from what they term, ‘indentured servitude’ to the notorious spy company.
With a goal of $5,000, the three-month-old fundraising campaign has so far come up well short of the target. At last check, the effort has only raised $1,253. That, in this author’s opinion, is a sad commentary on the state of America’s movement for free speech and a free press. Barrett Brown is widely considered a hero of independent news outlets and grassroots activists alike.
The fundraising page for the effort to raise $5,000 for Brown ends with these words, ‘Barrett currently pays $200 per month, at which rate he will be paying Stratfor for the rest of his life. Let’s help free Barrett from this indentured servitude by collectively paying off his restitution. With little contributions at a time, we can chip away at the enormous, unjustified total. If we can raise $5,000 for Barrett, we’ll cover two full years of his payments, with a little extra to spare for his commissary, with which he can purchase basic items in prison.’
To make a donation, visit the Free Barrett Brown fundraising page.