Photo by Dell Cameron
Yesterday, I got as close as any media physically can to Barrett Brown, the American journalist that was locked up in late 2012 for pasting a hyperlink in a chatroom, which federal prosecutors alleged contained leaked credit card data from the Statfor hacks.
Due to a media gag order upheld by the US District Court in the Northern District of Texas, Brown isn't allowed to make "any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (included, but not limited to bloggers)," with the exception of Kevin M. Gallagher, who heads his defense fund. The prosecution's rationale for the gag order is that any extrajudicial statements made by Brown, or his attorneys, could be prejudicial to his defense.
Earlier this week, US Attorney Sarah Saldaña filed a motion to dismiss 11 of Brown's charges, namely those related to the pasted hyperlink (including trafficking in stolen authentication features, aggravated identity theft, and access device fraud). The motion came as both a victory for Brown's case and a sigh of relief to supporters who have continuously cited the absurdity of his charges related to hyperlinking. Awaiting two trial dates this spring (April 28, 2014, and May 19, 2014), the prosecution's case is unraveling.
Outside the federal detention center in Seagoville, Texas, Dell Cameron and I sat in a car for two and a half hours while lawyers Jay Leiderman and Tor Ekeland went inside to visit Barrett. This was as close as we’d get.
“Get him to draw a prison selfie,” I begged Jay and Tor, before they left their phones in the car and were then escorted toward the brick building by a guard that told me to stop taking pictures. As the lawyers went inside, our dead-end wish to accompany them dissolved into a quiet episode of Beavis and Butthead.
The author photographs Jay Leiderman and Tor Ekeland. Photo by Dell Cameron.
At one point, while needing to pee, the security at the prison's entrance wouldn't allow us to use the bathroom directly behind the reception area's metal detector. We drove up the street to use a gas station's bathroom—not knowing when Jay and Tor would emerge from the prison—and hurried back to standby, essentially acting as their personal chauffeurs. When they finally returned, I asked them how it'd gone, how Barrett was doing, and what they could tell me.
#Prisonselfie, drawing by Barrett Brown
They handed me Barrett's hand drawn selfie, sat down in the back of the car, and commented thusly: