A lawyer for one of the defendants charged in the feds’ big ‘Anonymous’ case compared distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to civil rights era sit-ins and that time President Barack Obama told supporters to call their member of Congress, overwhelming switchboards.
Stanley Cohen, representing 20-year-old Mercedes Haefer on a pro-bono basis, told TPM that he got involved in the case because he didn’t like the way the feds were dealing with Anonymous.
“I think this is a political persecution, end of story,” Cohen said. “This administration wants to send a message to those who would register their opposition: ‘you come after us, we’re going to come after you.’ That’s what has happened in the Eric Holder Department of Justice.”
“When Obama orders supporters to inundate the switchboards of Congress, that’s good politics, when a bunch of kids decide to send a political message with roots going back to the civil rights movement and the revolution, it’s something else,” Cohen told TPM, stipulating that he was not indicating that his client was even involved. “Barack Obama urged people to shutdown the switchboard, he’s not indicted.”
“It’s not identity theft, not money or property, pure and simple case of an electronic sit in, at best,” Cohen continued.
Cohen said that he was approached not long after the first wave of grand jury subpoenas came out. He began to communicate with about a half-dozen people connected to Anonymous, and spent a lot of time exchanging communications with Haefer.
He described her as a bright college student from Arkansas who has family in Wisconsin. Cohen said her mother was in the military and that she’s been on her own since she was about 16.
“She doesn’t rely upon her family to pay her bills or her tuition or her rent,” Cohen said. He said she works at a pizzeria full-time in addition to attending college in Nevada, and there was a point when it looked like she was going to lose her job just because of the arrest.
A legal defense fund has been set up by Haefer’s legal team, but Cohen said it would be used to cover other legal expenses, not to pay him.
“We had a problem with getting her to Vegas because the Marshals Service was being difficult,” Cohen said. He paid for the ticket upfront, but said the money had to come from somewhere. “We have to have experts, investigators. The fund isn’t to pay me, there are core costs that need to be picked up.”
Cohen said he’s been in communication with lawyers representing other defendants in the case, adding they were in the “very early stages of discovery.” He said the case will raise some highly technical and extraordinary questions in terms of chains of custody and other legal issues.