‘I'll always be indebted’: DOJ demands more of Barrett Brown's money

‘I'll always be indebted’: DOJ demands more of Barrett Brown's money
Journalist Barrett Brown is having another row with the Department of Justice. He has received a letter notifying him that “your property is being sought by the United States of America.”

Brown was released from prison in late 2016, following a 2012 indictment on conspiracy charges relating to a hack of the private intelligence firm Stratfor. Brown shared a link to the documents, according to the government.

With the first round of hacks in 2011, Brown explained to RT in a phone call: “The DOJ, as shown by the emails, was acting as a sort of concierge service for black operations for major companies.”

Revelations contained in the Stratfor emails included insider trading, emails that cast doubt on the official narrative of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and the firm’s involvement in regime change operations in Libya and Syria. The hacked emails, released by WikiLeaks, seemingly damaged the company considerably. For Brown’s role, the government has ordered him to pay nearly $900,000 to Stratfor in restitution.

“$800,000 goes to Stratfor, and another $35,000 or $40,000 each to Combined Systems in Philadelphia, which is an arms dealer that sold militarized tear gas to the kingdom of Bahrain which was used against civilians, and which Jeremy Hammond hacked. And a no longer existent law firm, Puckett & Faraj, which defended the Marine who committed the Haditha Massacre,” Brown said.

“I’ll always be indebted to them. After my probation is over my legal obligations here are done. And I’m not obligated to stick around the US and keep paying money to the company I’m in indentured servitude towards,” Brown said. “As I already announced on [RT] a few months ago, I’m revoking my citizenship.”

When Brown was released from prison, 10 percent of his non-essential income was set to be taken by the government as a penalty. Now, Brown says he doesn’t know how much he has to pay after he was sent a new letter demanding 25 percent, the maximum the government is allowed to deduct.

“We just don’t know what they’re claiming they can do and why,” Brown said.

Perhaps in the government’s effort to correctly assess Brown’s income after his release, a subpoena was sent to The Intercept, Brown’s employer during his time in prison. The subpoena demanded all financial records and correspondences served. Brown wrote the Dallas US Attorney’s Office that he was “troubled” by the subpoena's demand for “privileged journalistic communications” from the news outlet, where he had not worked “for some eight months.”

A legal defense fund set up for Brown is suing the DOJ after they subpoenaed the company that hosted the fundraiser for information on his donors. “In trying to determine the name and information about donors is very similar to other things we’ve seen with Team Themis. And then more recently, you had the DOJ wanting to get information on everybody who’d been to this anti-Trump website. So it’s something the DOJ has done before. They want to know who the activists are.”

“It’s definitely part of a much larger problem that is very fundamental, more so because a lot of these companies, what they’re doing, has to do with information. It involves tampering with the information that the public gets. There’s just a lot going on in that sector that’s been very opaque for a long time.”

The literary agency through which Brown has a book deal has also been subpoenaed.

“They like to send subpoenas to The Intercept, they like to send subpoenas to anyone I’m associated with, because it forces them to get their lawyers,” Brown told RT.

Oddly, the subpoena to Writer’s House, Brown’s publisher, includes the claim: “More than 30 days has elapsed since demand for payment of the debt was made, and Brown has not paid the amount due.” Brown called Emily Shutt of the US Attorney General’s Office. Shutt then told Brown that the government could take all of his assets.

“She wasn’t able to explain through my own questions about this, like is the 25 percent – is this something you always do? – you always send subpoenas to somebody’s employers and demand blah blah, and it’s predicated on a claim that I haven’t been paying?” Brown said. “She wasn’t able to answer any of that.”

Brown said of the subpoenas that they “play into a larger pattern that is not widely known, but is known by activists and has been reported in some of the better press outlets over the last 10 years of how the FBI and DOJ have historically handled activists.”

When asked about the DOJ garnishing of Brown's wages, Lisa Slimak of the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas said the payment schedule was set forth in the judgment: “the defendant shall make payments on such unpaid balance in monthly installments of not less than 10-percent of the defendant’s gross monthly income, or at a rate of not less than $50 per month, whichever is greater.”

By Alex Rubinstein