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.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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