NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A Chicago computer hacker tied to the group known as Anonymous was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison for cyber attacks on various government agencies and businesses, including a global intelligence company.
Jeremy Hammond, 28, was handed the maximum term in the December 2011 hacking of Strategic Forecasting Inc, 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 Austin, Texas-based 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 organisations, including the Arizona Department of Public Safety, releasing personal details of officers as part of an attack by the Anonymous-affiliated group LulzSec.
Hammond's lawyers argued their client should be sentenced to only time he had already served since his March 2012 arrest, portraying him as a political activist and whistleblower.
As part of the Stratfor attack, Hammond's lawyers said he turned over company e-mails to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which has since selectively released documents revealing the firm's dealings with clients including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Coca-Cola Company.
Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan imposed the 10-year term, and also ordered Hammond to serve three years of supervised release.
The defendant had pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking.
Hammond's sentencing drew more than 250 letters of support from family, friends and activists, including Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, the top secret US report on its role in the Vietnam War.