Another Anonymous Hate Group Member Sentenced in Crime Against New York Scientology Church
Another member of the hate group Anonymous, Jacob Speregen, was sentenced today in New York City Criminal Court in connection with a January 8, 2009, attack on the Church of Scientology of New York. (People vs. Almahadin, Mahoud; Criminal Docket 2009NY007516).
In 2009, Speregen accompanied another member of Anonymous, Mahmoud Almahadin, who smeared himself with Vaseline and assorted detritus, ran into the New York Church just off Times Square and desecrated the Church, including causing damage to Scriptural materials. Speregen videoed the attack as a co-conspirator with Almahadin and other Anonymous members. Speregen’s sentence forbids him from going near the Church of Scientology for five years. He was also sentenced to pay the damages caused by his acts and to perform substantial community service as further restitution for the crime.
Church of Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon said, “This decision by the Court sends a strong message to Anonymous—and any hate group—that their actions will not be tolerated and that the right to practice one’s religion will be protected.”
“Anonymous” is a loosely connected hate group targeting Scientologists, Jews and other minority racial and ethnic groups and organizations. Mahmoud Almahadin was sentenced earlier this year.
The conviction follows the sentencing of two men on separate felony convictions for their part in a cyber attack against Church of Scientology websites in January 2008, also carried out by Anonymous members.
Dmitriy Guzner, 19, of Verona, New Jersey, is presently incarcerated in Federal prison for his role in the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against Scientology websites. A DDOS attack occurs when a large amount of malicious Internet traffic is directed at websites, overloading their capacity and making them unavailable to legitimate users. Church websites were made unavailable to valid users for over 24 hours, with the attacks continuing for 12 days, requiring the Church to hire a computer security company to protect against the attacks and to reroute traffic. Due to the severity of the crime, Judge Joseph Greenaway in U.S. District Court in Newark sentenced Guzner to the 366-day prison term, plus two years probation following his prison term, and ordered Guzner to pay $37,500 restitution to the Church.
Another Anonymous follower, Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, is also incarcerated in Federal prison for his role in the same attack on Scientology websites, for conspiracy and “transmission of a code, information, program, or command to a protected computer.”
Court documents state that he obtained a computer program from an Anonymous website and executed a DDOS attack from his dormitory at Iowa State University against the Church computers in Los Angeles.
Anonymous is an underground hate group that, in addition to the cyber attack, targeted Churches of Scientology and members with death threats, bomb threats and fake anthrax mail. In addition to Scientology Churches and the Prime Minister of Australia, Anonymous has also targeted The Epilepsy Foundation, hip-hop music websites and others.
Scientology is a worldwide religious movement with more than 8,500 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups in 165 countries. The Church and its members dedicate their time and resources to numerous humanitarian programs that Scientology has become known for around the world, including combating drug abuse, immorality, illiteracy, and human rights violations.