NEW YORK - A Chicago computer hacker tied to the group known as Anonymous was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison for cyber attacks on various government agencies and businesses, including a global intelligence company.
Jeremy Hammond, 28, was handed the maximum term for the December 2011 hacking of Strategic Forecasting Inc, an attack his lawyers contend was driven by concern about the role of private firms in gathering intelligence domestically and abroad.
Prosecutors say the hack of Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, resulted in the theft of 60,000 credit card numbers and records for 860,000 clients, which were then uploaded online. Hammond admitted being behind it in May.
He also admitted to hacking several law enforcement agencies and organizations, including the Arizona Department of Public Safety, releasing personal details of officers as part of an attack by the Anonymous-affiliated group LulzSec.
Hammond's lawyers argued their client should be sentenced to only time he had already served since his March 2012 arrest, portraying him as a political activist and whistleblower.
As part of the Stratfor attack, Hammond's lawyers said he turned over company emails to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which has since selectively released documents revealing the firm's dealings with clients including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Coca-Cola Co.
"As a result of the Stratfor hack, some of the dangers of the unregulated private intelligence industry are now known," Hammond said in court.
But Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the US District Court in Manhattan imposed the 10-year term followed by three years of supervised release, citing his "total lack of respect for the law."
"There was certainly nothing high-minded or public spirited about his hacking," Preska said.
The sentence was the maximum allowed under the single charge of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking that Hammond pleaded guilty to in May.
Hammond's sentencing drew more than 250 letters of support from family, friends and activists, including Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, the top secret report on the United States' role in the Vietnam War.