After 15 months in prison, LulzSec member Jeremy Hammond ("Anarchaos") has admitted his involvement with the LulzSec hacking of Stratfor, and pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking.
Hammond admitted that he took part in the Stratfor hack that saw the online publishing of over 50,000 credit card numbers, as well as the publishing of email addresses, phone numbers, and easily cracked passwords for Startfor's approximately 860,000 subscribers. The hack also involved the publishing of over five million emails from Stratfor on Wikileaks. Hammond also admitted to taking part in hacks on the FBI, Arizona Department of Public Safety, and various hacks on a collection of businesses and law enforcement agencies.
"This non-cooperating plea agreement frees me to tell the world what I did and why, without exposing any tactics or information to the government and without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of other activists on and offline," said Hammond in a statement.
Hammond said that he lodged the guilty plea because he was facing a sentence of over 30 years if he lost the trial, a situation that he says was likely to occur. Even if he was successful in this initial trial, Hammond said he faced being moved to another district to face new but similar charges.
"The process might have repeated indefinitely," he said.
"Ultimately I decided that the most practical route was to accept this plea with a maximum of a ten year sentence and immunity from prosecution in every federal court."
Even though he has entered a guilty plea, Hammond is still unrepentant on his involvement with LulzSec.
"I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right."
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called Hammond a "repeat offender cybercriminal" in a statement.
"While he billed himself as fighting for an anarchist cause, in reality, Jeremy Hammond caused personal and financial chaos for individuals whose identities and money he took and for companies whose businesses he decided he didn’t like," said Bharara.
Hammond agreed to pay up to US$2.5 million in restitution, and will be sentenced by Judge Loretta Preska on September 6.
Late last year, Anonymous demanded that Judge Preska step down after calling her impartially into question. As Preska's husband was among the victims of the Stratfor hack, Anonymous declared that Preska had a direct conflict of interest.
Earlier this month, four members of LulzSec were handed sentences of between 20 and 32 months in the UK after pleading guilty to hacking-related charges.
"You sought to amuse yourselves and wreaked destruction and havoc. You cared nothing about the privacy of others, but kept your own identities hidden." said Judge Deborah Taylor.
LulzSec's undoing was the turning of its leader Hector Monsegur aka "Sabu" into an FBI informant, who was central in helping the authorities track down the other members of the hacking group.
Although Monsegur is now out of the LulzSec picture, that hasn't stopped others from trying to claim the LulzSec title.
In April, an Australian IT professional who claimed to be the leader of LulzSec was arrested and charged with three offences relating to an alleged hack of the website of Narrabri Shire Council.