‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

700_7ee98f0f301dd001a8538bafe59c2978Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted on charges of stealing information and sharing links to stolen credit card information.

Yet overarching insights into the decentralized collective are hard to find.

Information activist Asher Wolf provides a unique perspective in an interview with a prominent American Anon, who has more than 290,000 Twitter followers via @AnonyOps and is living in exile by choice.

The hacker left the country out of a fear of being harshly prosecuted by the government for radical advocacy of movements such as WikiLeaks and Occupy.

“I think the idea was planted when I saw others leaving,” @AnonyOps told Wolf. ” Glen Greenwald left … There’s a brain drain of political dissidents – America’s punishment for screwing with civil liberties.

“With the NSA building massive domestic spying programs, I can’t blame anyone for wanting to leave: America – land of the surveilled, home of the logged.”

The coder — who sees his Twitter success as ” hacking public dialog” — left his home, family, and friends because he began to think the government would “fake my involvement in something or try to entrap me, or hit me with a bull— conspiracy charge.”

He likened his situation to Internet hero Aaron Swartz, the RSS co-developer and Reddit cofounder who committed suicide amid an ambitious prosecution after he downloaded millions of academic papers from the nonprofit online database J-STOR.

“I left for some of the same reasons Aaron Swartz ‘left,'” @AnonyOps told Wolf. “But exile was my choice of escape instead. I don’t have suicide in me and I didn’t want to end up in a jail cell.”

Swartz’s girlfriend believes that the death of the 26-year-old — who was facing a maximum of $4 million in fines and more than 50 years in prison — “was caused by exhaustion, by fear, and by uncertainty … by a persecution and a prosecution that had already wound on for 2 years … and had already drained all of his financial resources.”

Barret Brown, the journalist and Anon arrested for threatening an FBI officer and sharing a link to stolen credit card information taken from Stratfor, faces up to 100 years in prison.

“From my perspective, it’s time to either leave or hide,” @AnonyOps said.

( via businessinsider.com )