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RTF comment from Mediageek.org

by mediageek.org Monday, Feb. 11, 2002 at 10:04 PM

A comment about the RTF arrest.

RaiseTheFist.com Webmaster Arrested in NYC
According to the SF Bay IMC, Sherman, the RTF webmaster, was arrested during the WEF protests in NYC and charged with loitering. Upon release on that charge he was immediately arrested again in connection to the earlier FBI raid on his home. Corroborating reports have also shown up and attributed to Pacifica radio station KPFK in Los Angeles.

Cryptome.org has posted the text of the FBI's original search warrant, along with a compendium of relevant info and quotes from several media sources. In summary, Sherman is being investigated for "computer intrusion activities into private, commercial, and possibly government computers in violation of Title 18, United State Code, Sections 1030 (computer fraud and abuse)... [and violation of] Title 18, United States Code Section 842(p)(2) (distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons mass destruction) in furtherance of riot."

I recommend reading through the warrant, there's quite a few interesting things that give some insight into how the FBI conducts these types of investigations. So much of it is just plain old research that can be done using a browser and search engine, complemented with interviewing witnesses.

Like many others, I'm left wondering what to make of it all. While I have no interest in bomb making, I'm nonetheless disturbed that publishing such information can be prosecuted as a crime. I'd guess it's the supposed intent -- "in furtherance of riot" according to the warratn -- that makes it a crime, since simple publication should be protected under the First Amendment. It does seem as though Sherman is a young guy who's now in over his head, whether or not he's guilty of anything the FBI thinks he is (and he is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty). I may not agree with everything he published on RTF, but I don't agree with a lot of things I read on the web and I wouldn't have that be cause for someone to be arrested or a website to be taken down. Daring to speak your mind -- even if it's extremely critical of the gov't and status quo -- is not crime, and shouldn't be made one.

As for the allegations of hacking, I don't know what to think either. I'm hard pressed to see this kid as a criminal who has endangered lives in any way--though he's probably pissed off some sysadmins. If he has hacked websites, then maybe it's time to learn how to hide your tracks and keep your mouth shut a little better. In any event, I doubt the website hacking is what the gov't is after -- it's just an easier case to make.

[click the link to get a fully linked story, and a very good website.]

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