NEW YORK -- A Chicago man facing computer hacking charges in a federal investigation targeting the worldwide group Anonymous is entertaining himself behind bars the old fashioned way: by reading books.
Jeremy Hammond is doing "great," defense attorney Elizabeth Fink said after Hammond's not guilty plea Monday in federal court in Manhattan. "We've provided him with a ton of books. He's having a good time reading."
The reading list for the self-described "communist anarchist" includes "Carry Me Home," a 2001 book about the civil rights era in Birmingham, his lawyer said. "A Time to Die" – Tom Wicker's 1971 book about the rebellion at New York's Attica prison – wasn't allowed by the jail, she added.
There was no bail request at the brief hearing Monday for Hammond, who pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit computer hacking and other charges. He's been held in a lower Manhattan lockup since an initial court appearance in Chicago in March.
A criminal complaint accuses Hammond of pilfering information of more than 850,000 people via his attack on Texas-based Stratfor and used credit card numbers to make charges of at least $700,000. He allegedly bragged he even snared the personal data of a former U.S. vice president and one-time CIA director.
Hammond, 27, once rallied against plans to hold the 2016 Olympics in Chicago because he felt it would hurt low-income people; another time, he protested against neo-Nazi groups, Defense attorney Jim Fennerty said. In a 2005 feature article about Hammond's hacking skills, he told the Chicago Reader he could program video games before he was 10.
He told the paper he was a "hacktivist" who sought to promote causes but never for profit.
A website for supporters, freehammond.com, describes Hammond as "one of the few true electronic Robin Hoods." But prosecutors describe Hammond as a menace: In one alleged online chat, Hammond regarding Stratfor, he allegedly wrote, "Time to feast upon their (email databases)."
The filing includes odd biographical details, including that Hammond is allegedly a professed "freegan," or someone committed to eating discarded food to counter consumer waste. It says agents saw Hammond going through garbage bins to collect food.
Hammond, who used online aliases such as "crediblethreat" and "yohoho," once described himself as "an anarchist communist," the complaint says.
He has been previously been arrested for marijuana possession and involvement in a protest where an Olympic banner was torn down, according to the filing.
His next court date is July 23.