Hacking for the FBI: How an Informant Sold Out Anonymous

After the feds flipped the hacker known as Sabu, did he cross the line between informing and entrapment?

Hector Xavier Monsegur, a.k.a. "Sabu"Hector Xavier Monsegur, a.k.a. “Sabu”

In July federal agents quietly arrested Hector Xavier Monsegur at a New York City housing project. Less than 24 hours later, they’d converted the infamous hacker, known online as Sabu, into an informant. He reportedly had been caring for his imprisoned aunt’s two young children and didn’t want to abandon them for a jail cell.

Working from an FBI building, Sabu allowed agents to observe his online conversations with friends and confidants in the hactivist group Anonymous. But that’s not all. He also went on the attack, positioning himself as a ringleader of a new Anonymous faction, Antisec, that would target private security firms, police departments, and the FBI itself. The FBI appears to have used Antisec as a way to attract hackers and collect evidence against them. But did Sabu cross the line between informing on his friends and entrapping them? Writers such as Forbes‘ Andy Greenberg have floated the idea. (Similar questions have come up in the case of another activist turned FBI asset, Brandon Darby.)

On Wednesday the Anonymous group CabinCr3w shed light on that question with an incredibly detailed dossier of Sabu’s online activities while he was in the employ of the FBI. This timeline follows his secret transformation from hacktivist to informer and his eventual outing.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate