San Francisco, March 8, 2014–Following requests from both prosecutors and defense attorneys, yesterday the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed 11 felony counts against journalist Barrett Brown. The charges related to the reposting of a publicly-available hyperlink containing thousands of documents stolen from intelligence contractor Stratfor Forecasting. Brown was never accused of having a role in illegally obtaining the information from Stratfor.
“The U.S. Department of Justice never should have brought these charges against Barrett Brown, and their dismissal is long overdue,” said Geoffrey King, CPJ’s Internet Advocacy Coordinator. “Journalists routinely link to information that substantiates their reporting, which may involve sensitive or even stolen documents. The mere filing of these charges undermines U.S. efforts to preserve the interconnected nature of the Web.”
In a blog post last year, King described the charges dismissed yesterday as antithetical to a free press and warned that they could have far-reaching consequences beyond Brown’s case. Also last year, CPJ raised concerns about the chilling effects of the Obama administration‘s mass surveillance programs and aggressive war on leaks.