An alleged spokesman for the "hacktivist" group Anonymous is in FBI custody. On Wednesday night during an online video chat, Barrett Brown was taken into custody about 11 p.m. Central Time by the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, and was reported to be under arrest by the FBI as of Thursday.
The arrest was reported by the Sheriff's Department, but there was no information by either that office or the FBI as to the charge.
'Get Your Hands Down'
A lawyer for Brown, Jay Leiderman, said Brown was being charged with threatening an FBI agent. He is reportedly being held without bail in a federal detention center near Dallas.
The recorded video chat on TinyChat, which has been posted online, shows Brown, 31, in a split-screen conversation with several others, one of whom wears the V-for-Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask that Anonymous members have adopted.
A woman, who some have identified as Brown's girlfriend, is shown on the screen from his location. At one point, she turns off the video but the audio continues with shouting and noise, and another voice says "get your hands down." The other chat participants exchange jokes about whether the noise from Brown's camera is actually an FBI raid.
Brown had appeared in a video published on Wednesday on YouTube, which was entitled "Why I'm Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith Part Three: Revenge of the Lithe." In a rambling rant, Brown said Smith was chosen because Brown's mother is being threatened with obstruction of justice for allegedly hiding his laptop.
Brown said he hid it himself, and that his mother is, in fact, "a rule follower," which is "what's absurd about this."
'I Am Going to Ruin His Life'
On the tape, Brown says, "Robert Smith's life is over." He added that, "When I say his life is over, I'm not saying I'm going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life and look into his (expletive) kids." He also says that he might shoot and kill law enforcement agents if they raid his home, because he might mistake them for members of the Zetas Mexican drug cartel. Brown said he has been targeted by that gang after he threatened them in 2011 because of a supposed kidnapping of an Anonymous member.
Leiderman told news media that his client has "a very strong First Amendment defense" to his comments on the video.
"Without having talked to him, it's hard for me to conceive of this as really a threat," Leiderman said.
Brown also posted a note online that requested all info on Robert Smith be sent to an e-mail address so the "FBI can watch me look up his kids."
Brown has been presented in media reports as a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the Anonymous group. Some members of the Anonymous community have disavowed Brown and speculated that he was actually working with the FBI.
During a raid in March by the FBI, which was intended to capture members of the Anonymous-offshoot Lulz Security hacktivist group, Brown's laptop had been confiscated.