An alleged Anonymous hacker has begun his second week of a hunger strike in prison to protest perceived institutionalized torture and political prosecutions against the likes of the late internet activist Aaron Swartz.
Martin Gottesfeld, 32, began the hunger strike on October 3 and tells Newsweek he has already lost eight pounds. Gottesfeld faces charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act after allegedly being involved in the hacking of Boston Children’s Hospital in 2014 following the apparent mistreatment of one of its patients.
A video released by the hacker collective Anonymous in 2014 called for attacks against the hospital in response to the controversial Justina Pelletier child-custody case. The video claimed that 15-year-old Pelletier was held against her will by the State of Massachusetts and was “tortured physically and mentally.”
Gottesfeld says he will continue the hunger strike until two demands are met. Firstly, he has asked for the U.S. presidential candidates to promise to help ensure children are not mistreated in the way he claims Pelletier was.
“My motive for the strike is to get pledges from candidates so that something can finally happen after decades of children being tortured, abused and killed,” Gottesfeld tells Newsweek through his wife Dana Gottesfeld.
“It’s inexcusable for the death and abuse of so many children go unpunished. We should do better for America’s youth.”
Secondly, Gottesfeld has called for an end to the “political” style of prosecution waged by Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.
Ortiz is involved in Gottesfeld’s prosecution and was previously involved in the case against Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide while under federal indictment for alleged computer crimes. Ortiz’s office has declined to comment on the hunger strike.
Dana says her husband is hopeful his conditions will be met, adding: “If the candidates make the pledge but don’t make good on it, he plans to strike again.”
Gottesfeld faces up to five years in prison and a $380,000 fine. A FreeMartyG campaign has been launched by his friends, family and supporters to help raise awareness of his case.
Gottesfeld was originally arrested by the FBI after he was rescued off the coast of Cuba in February by a Disney cruise ship. Gottesfeld and his wife were aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean when they encountered problems and were forced to issue a distress signal.