Convicted hacker called to testify to grand jury in Virginia

FALLS CHIURCH, Va. (AP) — A convicted hacker who’s serving 10 years in prison for breaking into computer systems of security firms and law-enforcement agencies has been called to testify to a federal grand jury in Virginia.

Supporters of Jeremy Hammond, part of the Anonymous hacking group, say he’s been summoned to testify against his will to a grand jury in Alexandria on Tuesday. Hammond, who admitted leaking hacked data to WikiLeaks, believes the subpoena is related to the investigation of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Assange is under indictment in Alexandria and the U.S. is seeking extradition.

Prosecutors declined comment.

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was also called to testify to the WikiLeaks grand jury. She refused and is now serving a jail sentence of up to 18 months for civil contempt.

Hammond’s supports say he’ll also refuse to testify.

Hammond was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years in prison for carrying out cyberattacks that targeted Texas-based Strategic Forecasting Inc., known as Stratfor, as well as the FBI’s Virtual Academy, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, and the Jefferson County, Alabama, Sheriff’s Office.

He argued at his sentencing that the hacks were civil disobedience to expose the pervasiveness of government and private surveillance.

Hammond’s supporters, the Jeremy Hammond Support Committee, say he was scheduled to be released at the end of the year after receiving credit for ongoing participation in a drug-abuse program. That participation has now been disrupted and his supporters worry his incarceration could now be extended by more than two years.

“The government’s effort to try to compel Jeremy to testify is punitive and mean-spirited. Jeremy has spent nearly 10 years in prison because of his commitment to his firmly held beliefs. There is no way that he would ever testify before a grand jury,” the group said in its statement.

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