After sitting in jail for a year and a half on trumped-up federal charges, Barrett Brown finally has something to smile about. On March 5, prosecutors dropped the bulk of the charges against Brown, a journalist associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous.
Brown's attorneys had filed a motion pleading for dismissal based on the grounds of free-speech protection in the U.S. Constitution. The charges stemmed from Brown sharing a hyperlink to data from the private intelligence firm Statfor.
Brown was not alleged to be the source of the hack — only the disseminator. This created widespread outrage from traditional journalists as well as Brown's supporters, who started the Right 2 Link campaign.
In requesting to dismiss 11 of the 17 charges against Brown, United States Attorney Sarah Saldaña eliminated the possibility of a sentence of more than 100 years in prison.
Brown still faces accusations of making threats over the Internet, conspiracy to publish personal information, retaliation against a federal official, access device fraud and two counts of obstructing justice. If convicted on all counts and given the maximum sentence, he could face up to 70 years confinement.
Brown's trial is scheduled to begin on April 28 in Dallas.