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‘Hacktivist’ pleads guilty to accessing law enforcement computer systems

Chicago Police Dept. mugshot Jeremy Hammond charged with being an anti-corporate hacker arrested by FBI Bridgeport Monday night March 5

Chicago Police Dept. mugshot of Jeremy Hammond, charged with being an anti-corporate hacker, arrested by the FBI in Bridgeport Monday night, March 5, 2012.

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Updated: June 30, 2013 6:37AM

A year after the FBI arrested him in a high-profile raid on his Bridgeport home, anarchist and “hacktivist” Jeremy Hammond pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegally accessing law enforcement and government contractor computer systems.

Hammond told a federal judge in New York that “I knew what I was doing was against the law,” according to his lawyer.

But just hours later the 28-year-old former child computer prodigy issued a defiant statement to his supporters, telling them, “I did what I believe is right.”

Hammond — an eccentric who for years sported dreadlocks and dumpster-dived for free food — illegally snared personal data belonging to 850,000 people in a cyber attack on a Texas-based publisher of geopolitical information called Strategic Forecasting Inc. The victims included a former U.S. vice president and a onetime CIA director.

Hammond also admitted hacking into the FBI’s “virtual academy” and participating in half a dozen other online security breaches. Under a plea deal with prosecutors, he faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars when he’s sentenced in September.

Described by supporters as an “electronic Robin Hood,” Hammond helped found the hacker group “AntiSec,” an off-shoot of Anonymous, the loosely organized worldwide hacking group that has stolen confidential information, defaced websites and temporarily put some victims out of business.

He used online aliases, including “crediblethreat” and “yohoho” but was nabbed after Hector Xavier Monsegur, a famous hacker known as “Sabu,” helped the feds infiltrate Anonymous.

Hammond’s previous run-ins with the law include a conviction for burning a 2016 Olympics banner in Daley Plaza; a 2005 conviction for stealing credit card data from a conservative website; an arrest at the Republican National Convention in 2004; and a 2009 arrest for violently disrupting a talk by a Holocaust denier.

In a statement posted on on Tuesday, Hammond wrote, “I believe in the power of the truth... I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors.”

Contributing: AP

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