Barret Brown, the award-winning journalist who was arrested in 2012 for sharing a link and encouraging others to sift through them after the report on Stratfor spying, has been taken into custody once again. Jay Leiderman, his lawyer, says “The people who did this are a bunch of chicken-sh*t a**holes that are brutalizing the Constitution”. According to Brown’s mother he was arrested for failing to obtain permission to give interviews to the media and was taken into custody during a scheduled check in. She also claims Brown had never missed a check in or failed a drug test since his release to a halfway house in November. Neither his mother or lawyer have been informed of where he is being held.
Brown plead guilty to obstruction of justice and threatening a FBI agent in 2014 to avoid the possibility of a 100 year sentence. The original charges of trafficking stolen credit cards, due to numbers and other information being available in the link he shared, were obviously absurd and the prosecution dropped them before trial.
Leiderman called the restrictions on Browns speech “disgusting” and said he believed the arrest was an act of reprisal for criticizing the government.
The irony of arresting a journalist for their first amendment rights twice should not be overlooked. When corporations and the government get out of line and subsequently get busted by watchdogs and investigative journalists, using state violence to defend themselves and their actions; while simultaneously punishing the individual who exposed their criminal actions is completely unacceptable.
When it comes to the First Amendment is sharing information made public through questionable methods protected or does spreading information released illicitly fall outside these protections? One could argue that it is the responsibility of a truly free press to investigate this information and disseminate any relevant details. The exact action that Brown was encouraging with his initial actions in 2012.