- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2019

Jeremy Hammond, a computer hacker recently found in contempt for defying federal grand jury proceedings related to WikiLeaks, vowed Friday to refuse to cooperate with authorities.

Hammond, 34, issued a statement a day after being found in contempt for refusing to answer questions in front of a federal grand jury empaneled in Alexandria, Virginia, the hub of the government’s longstanding criminal investigation into the WikiLeaks website.

His supporters assert the grand jury is the same that WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning refused to testify in front of and remains jailed as a result.

Currently serving a decade-long prison sentence, Hammond said that he was threatened with additional jail time if he remains uncooperative.

“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,” Hammond said in a statement.

“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,” Hammond continued. “As an anarchist, I am not part of their social contract, and do not recognize the legitimacy of their laws and courts.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria confirmed Hammond was found in contempt but declined to comment further.

Hammond was arrested in 2012 and charged in connection with several computer crimes conducted by the hacktivist group Anonymous and an offshoot, AntiSec, including hacking Strategic Forecasting, also known as Stratfor, a Texas-based private intelligence firm. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy in 2013 and was nearing the end of his prison sentence when he was recently moved to Alexandria and asked to appear.

Data stolen in the Stratfor hack was later provided to WikiLeaks and released online.

Manning, 31, served nearly seven years in prison for supplying WikiLeaks with a separate cache of classified material for publication, including hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and sensitive military documents. She was summoned to testify in front of a grand jury in Alexandria earlier this year, but she similarly refused to answer questions, was found in contempt and jailed accordingly.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria have since unsealed criminal charges against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange related to his solicitation and publication of documents provided by Manning. He has not been charged in connection with the Stratfor hack.

It was not immediate clear what sanctions Hammond may face for refusing to cooperate with grand jury proceedings. Manning is currently being fined $1,000 for not complying with a similar court order, translating to a combined total of upwards of $102,000 as of earlier this week, according to her supporters.

Assange, a 48-year-old Australian, is currently jailed in London fighting a U.S. extradition request. A British judge ordered him to remain held Friday pending extradition proceedings currently slated to start Feb. 25.

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