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Letter requesting leniency for Jeremy Hammond

Honorable Loretta A. Preska
Chief Judge
Southern District of New York
500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007

October 11, 2013

Dear Judge Preska,

I do human rights work on behalf of the Baloch people in Pakistan and learned of Jeremy Hammond’s case by way of the hyperactive twitter account of the hacker named Sabu [since identified as an informant for the FBI].

While a handful of journalists have covered the extrajudicial abductions and killings in Balochistan, human rights activists labored under the impression that world and US officials were largely unaware of the situation in Balochistan—until the Wikileaks revelations showed otherwise. And with the Stratfor leaks, we were offered a glimpse of just how widespread the knowledge is of the strife in Balochistan.

I do not know Jeremy personally, but many activists were following the hactivists on twitter because they appeared to be politically motivated by a desire to change the world for the better. And in our case, because the UN, world leaders and even several high-profile human rights organizations failed to publicly address the dire situation in Balochistan, urge any investigations or attempt to influence the behavior of the Pakistan military and its agencies, we paid attention to their activities on the off chance that further hactivist revelations might reveal what had happened to the disappeared and those responsible for the disappearances of Baloch activists. At the time I knew of a case in which a Pakistani national living in Pakistan was warned by diplomats of a threat against his life, so it seemed to me that there is no lack of information regarding what the reality on the ground is—it just had to be uncovered.

Indeed, prior to Sabu so famously disappearing with the literary flourish, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist and like that...he is gone,” a mother whose son had been abducted in Balochistan had penned an open letter to the website crisisbalochistan.com stating, “Maybe these hackers will uncover information that will reveal to us if our children are alive or dead.”

It is against this background that I attended two of Jeremy’s hearings in New York. I was chagrined by the possibility that a bright young man whose motivations were seemingly altruistic could face so much time in prison for his actions. And because that particular hack revealed to Baloch activists that their pleas and case had, in fact, reached the attention of many people in a position to actually address the issues, it had been beneficial to that particular human rights cause.

I am aware that Jeremy pled guilty to a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and I am also aware that Jeremy’s co-defendants in Ireland and the United Kingdom have either been released or are serving relatively short sentences. In sentencing Jeremy Hammond, I respectfully request that you grant him leniency. I understand his acts were born of compassion and politically motivated—not financial—and were undertaken as acts of civil disobedience. It is my sincere hope that Jeremy will be released with a sentence of time served.

Respectfully,

Wendy Johnson

***

For those unfamiliar with the human rights situation in Balochistan, I have included web links in the online version of this letter:

Reuters, September 24, 2013: Special report - The struggle Pakistan does not want reported by Matthew Green
The Guardian, March 29, 2011: Pakistan's secret dirty war
IPS News, June 23, 2011: ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Feared in Balochistan
Malik Siraj Akbar, September 25, 2009: How Panjgur is losing the battle
New Statesman, July 11, 2011: How Pakistan uses US military aid as a cover
Deutsche Welle, June 10, 2011: Pakistan's 'secret' war
The Express Tribune, July 9, 2011: Spinning half-truths on Balochistan
Huffington Post, July 7, 2011: Pakistan's Secret, Dirty Killings in Balochistan
The Express Tribune, June 14, 2011: Recalling Baloch history
The Express Tribune, May 23, 2011: The terribly sad state of Balochistan

Human Rights Reports:

Human Rights Watch, Jun 13, 2011: Pakistan: Upsurge in Killings in Balochistan
Asian Human Rights Commission, June 3, 2011: PAKISTAN: What is the score in Balochistan?
Amnesty International, June 3, 2011: Pakistan: Government must stop unlawful killings in Balochistan
Amnesty International, May 31, 2011: Pakistan must probe intelligence agencies as body of journalist is found

Exploitation of Minerals:
Dawn, November 25, 2010: Blood Gold: Exploitation of Mineral Wealth
Dawn, October 23, 2010: From Chile to Chagai
Dawn, September 30, 2008: Requiem for Reko Diq

On radicalization:
Malik Siraj Akbar, September 25, 2009: How Panjgur is losing the battle
CrisisBalochistan, September 7, 2010: Of Pakistani Death Squads, Baluch Masses and Slaughterhouses


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