Mom of alleged hacker: ‘He thinks America is evil’
By DON BABWIN, VERENA DOBNIK and DAVID B. CARUSO March 8, 2012 2:00AM
On September 29, 2009 Jeremy Hammond along with five other people were arrested for demonstrating against the Olympics 2016 in Chicago. They tried to disrupt workers installing a laurel wreath and medal on the Picasso in Daley Plaza by stealing and attempting to destroy parts of the decorations. Sun-Times photo
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:34AM
The mother of Jeremy Hammond, a 27-year-old Chicagoan accused of hacking confidential data from hundreds of thousands of people, said Wednesday her son was a brilliant computer wiz but apparently couldn’t stop himself from applying his genius to “get the goat of America.”
“He does have a good heart, but, I don’t know, he just wants to make those who disagree with him suffer,” Rose Collins said in a telephone interview from her home outside Austin, Texas. “He thinks America is evil, has done everything wrong.”
That made for some tension in the family. Collins described herself as a staunch conservative who has attended Tea Party rallies. Hammond’s father, now jailed in a Chicago suburb awaiting trial on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor, was “very, very far left,” Collins said. “So far off the charts that one more step he’s going to fall off the planet.”
Hammond, she said, was raised by his father after the couple split up and then adopted his politics. “He wants to end capitalism,” she said.
Collins said her son could have done anything with his computer skills but had a penchant for using them to raise a ruckus. In high school, she said, he hacked into the school’s mainframe computer to demonstrate its security vulnerabilities. He did the same thing when he went to college at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which earned him an expulsion, she said.
The university confirmed that Hammond was a computer science major but left without a degree in 2004.
A year later, Hammond was caught hacking into a conservative website and stealing credit card information. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Collins said she hopes her son is innocent.
“I’m praying for that,” she said.
But she added that she has long admired his courage and passion for his political beliefs, even if she didn’t share them.
“He’s a braver man than me,” she said.
Hammond is now jailed pending transport to New York, where he will face charges.