[UPDATE: Barrett Brown released again after four days in federal prison.]
I have written previously about outspoken journalist Barrett Brown, who was arrested by the government and sent to prison and even spent time in solitary confinement as a result of his insouciant attitude towards the prison authorities. While there, he wrote some excellent insider accounts of what prison life was like and its arbitrary and cruel nature, for which he won awards. As Alex Emmons writes:
Brown quickly became a symbol of the attack on press freedom after he was arrested in 2012 for reporting he did on the hacked emails of intelligence-contracting firms. Brown wrote about hacked emails that showed the firm Stratfor spying on activists on behalf of corporations. Brown also helped uncover a proposal by intelligence contractors to hack and smear WikiLeaks defenders and progressive activists.
Faced with the possibility of 100 years in prison, Brown pleaded guilty in 2014 to two charges related to obstruction of justice and threatening an FBI agent, and was sentenced to five years and 3 months. In 2016, Brown won a National Magazine Award for his scathing and often hilarious columns in The Intercept, which focused on his life in prison. He was released in November.
He was finally released from prison on November 29, 2016 and but was required to move into a halfway house with five drug dealers in Texas and required to check in periodically for drug tests, which he has done.
Since his release, Brown had given numerous interviews to media but three days ago, the day before he was to give an interview to PBS, he was re-arrested, ostensibly for not filling in the paperwork and getting permission for them. Neither Brown’s mother nor his lawyer Jay Leiderman has been told where he is being held.
Leiderman said he had not been presented with a formal justification for the arrest but was told that it had “to do with failing to abide by BOP restrictions on interviews.”
Leiderman called the impromptu media restrictions “disgusting” and said he believed the arrest was an act of reprisal for criticizing the government. “I would call the people who did this a bunch of chicken-shit assholes that are brutalizing the Constitution,” Leiderman said.
This is an excellent example of my earlier post today about the wide and sweeping nature of the laws we are subjected to and that they are used by the government to abuse those antagonize it. The government uses the web of bureaucratic rules to harass people since none of us know all the rules and can be hauled up for some violation if the government does not like us for any reason.
The government cannot say that they object to Brown’s descriptions of his incarceration and why he was sent to prison in the first place but they can harass him for paperwork that he was not aware that he should fill.