NEW YORK — A Chicago computer hacker tied to the group known as Anonymous was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for cyberattacks 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, 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, and releasing personal details of officers as part of an attack by the Anonymous-affiliated group LulzSec.
Hammond’s lawyers argued that their client should be sentenced only to time served since his March 2012 arrest, portraying him as a political activist and whistleblower.
But Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. 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.
The case follows a series of hacks by Anonymous-associated groups AntiSec and LulzSec that Hammond, who went by the nickname “Anarchaos,” began participating in in 2011.
Several key players have been arrested, including Hector Xavier Monsegur, an Anonymous leader going by the name “Sabu,” who has been cooperating with the FBI.
The hacks at issue in Hammond’s case began about a month after he completed his supervised release following a two-year prison term on an earlier federal hacking charge, prosecutors said.
In online chats quoted by prosecutors, Hammond said the goal was to destroy Stratfor.
“I’m hoping bankruptcy, collapse,” he wrote.
At Friday’s hearing, Hammond said he had never heard of Stratfor until Monsegur brought it to his attention. He called the fact that Monsegur had been cooperating with the FBI during the hack a “great surprise.”
A spokesman for Stratfor, based in Austin, declined to comment.