Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Justice for Martin Gottesfeld

Martin Gottesfeld, an activist jailed since February on charges stemming from a politically motivated cyberattack on Boston Children’s Hospital, has been on a hunger strike in prison for 49 days to bring attention to what he says is widespread mistreatment of children.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, Gottesfeld calls on the DOJ to release him from solitary confinement and alleges that he’s being mistreated at Metropolitan Correctional Center, the prison in New York where he is currently housed. Gottesfeld provided the letter to The Huffington Post, which then forwarded the letter to the officials’ offices seeking comment.

The Office of the Inspector General said it could not comment on the allegations, and the DOJ did not respond.

Gottesfeld says he has lost 45 pounds since he began his hunger strike on Oct. 3 and that his kidneys are in constant pain, but instead of receiving proper medical care, he believes he’s being punished by the prison for participating in his hunger strike. In his letter, he says that as “a direct result” of his strike, prison staff moved him into solitary confinement, that the prison has barred him from making calls to his family and attorneys and has threatened to put him on “suicide watch.” He also says that one of the prison doctors threateningly told him that inmates who are housed at MCC in New York “are quickly forgotten.” All of which, Gottesfeld believes, is an attempt by the prison to break his hunger strike.

He also notes that the prison has defended how its treating him as medically necessary, but Gottesfeld claims that he’s not being medically monitored. He also claims that his cell is cold and has standing water leaking on the floor, which Gottesfeld says concerns him because his immune system is compromised due to the weeks of starvation he’s undergone. He says the conditions in his cell increase the odds of infection.

“The medically appropriate thing to do would be to place me in a clean hospital bed, hook me up to a heart monitor, and not to punish me,” Gottesfeld says.

MCC New York didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment…
Gottesfeld’s wife, Dana Gottesfeld, told HuffPost that for the last two days her husband has been drinking fluids again as a show of good faith as he awaits the Department of Justice’s response to his letter. 

Martin Gottesfeld has said he’ll continue his hunger strike unless two conditions are met: President-elect Donald Trump must promise to work toward ensuring American children are spared the kind of mistreatment he says has victimized Pelletier. And the office of Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, which is prosecuting Gottesfeld, must end its “political,” over-aggressive style of prosecution. (HuffPost catalogued Ortiz’s controversial record of targeting progressives in a July report that caused a political dust-up in Massachusetts.)

“The result of my hunger strike will serve as an appropriate backdrop to the upcoming Pelletier lawsuit, and accurately highlights the human rights records of Carmen Ortiz and Boston Children’s Hospital,” Gottesfeld said in a written statement provided to HuffPost. “The feats made public in those proceedings, which the courts would deny me the right to raise at my ‘trial,’ should be known to the world.”…

[from Gottesfeld’s letter]  Rolling Stone is working on a feature about my flight to protect these kids, the Huffington Post has published multiple articles, and television networks are also working on multiple pieces. Justina thanked me in her Rolling Stone Interview and said that I do not belong in jail. Reverend Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, to Rolling Stone he is praying for me, and the Pelletier family spoke in detail regarding the horrible abuses that paralyzed Justina and nearly took her life at Boston Children’s. Additionally, the Pelletier’s have sued the hospital so the totality of Justina’s suffering will be heard in open court. I take great comfort in knowing that the whole truth will inevitably be brought to light, further vindicating me.

As a direct result of my hunger strike, I am currently being punished at the DOJ facility MCC New York, despite never having been adjudicated of any crime by any court, nor even a prison disciplinary process. I am being held in solitary confinement, have not been able to call my family, nor my attorneys. I have been threatened with being placed on suicide watch, forcefully hydrated by IV, and force-fed. I am told if I don’t drink voluntarily, I can leave segregation. This is a clear and blatant attempt to break the hunger strike; there is no medical reason for restricting my calls to my wife, nor placing my in solitary.

One of the doctors here told me that inmates who come to MCC New York are quickly forgotten, but I know with all the journalists currently working on coverage, this thinly-veiled threat is simply not accurate in my case.

Further, while the reasons for these conditions are claimed to be medical, I am not being medically monitored. If I were to pass out at the wrong time, it could be several hours before I am discovered. My cell is cold, with standing water leaking on the floor, which given the compromising effects of starvation on my immune system, infection greatly increases the odds of a catastrophic and deadly infection.  The medically appropriate thing to do would be to place me in a clean hospital bed, hook me up to a heart monitor, and not to punish me.

I could be mere hours or days away from death, and I would like to call my wife, who I have not embraced in 9 months.



  1. The hacktivist who allegedly launched distributed denial-of-service attacks in 2014 on Children's Hospital of Boston and another local healthcare facility in protest of a controversial child custody case has been arraigned on federal charges.

    Martin Gottesfeld, a 32-year-old biotech professional from Somerville, Mass., faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted on one count of conspiracy and one count of intentional damage to a protected computer. He pleaded not guilty at his Oct. 26 arraignment in the U.S. district court in Boston. Gottesfeld's wife Dana tells Information Security Media Group that her husband collapsed in court during his arraignment as a result of a hunger strike protesting his prosecution in the case.

    Attorney Tor Ekeland, who is representing Gottesfeld in the case, had no comment about a Sept. 18 statement Gottesfeld provided the Huffington Post about "why I knocked Boston Children's Hospital off the Internet."

    In the statement, Gottesfeld said he was motivated to launch the assault because, "I had heard ... too many ... horror stories of institutionalized children who were killed or took their own lives in the so-called 'troubled teen industry.'" With Boston Children's involvement in one high-profile case, Gottesfeld said an attack on the hospital during an important fundraising campaign "would hit [the hospital] where they appear to care the most, the pocket book and reputation."...

    Federal prosecutors also contend that on March 23, 2014, Gottesfeld posted a YouTube video calling, in the name of the hacking organization Anonymous, for action against Children's Hospital in response to its treatment of Pelletier. The video, which was narrated by a computer-generated voice, stated that Anonymous "will punish all those held accountable and will not relent until [Pelletier] is free."

    Prosecutors say the YouTube video also directed viewers to a posting on the website that contained information about the Children's Hospital's server necessary to initiate a DDoS attack against that server.

    Court documents say that on April 19, 2014, Gottesfeld and the conspirators initiated a DDoS attack against the Children's Hospital server that was identified in the posting.

    "The DDoS attack, which directed hostile traffic at the hospital's network for at least seven days, disrupted that network and took the hospital's website out of service. The attack also disrupted the hospital's day-to-day operations as well as the research being done at the hospital," the indictment alleges.

    "In an effort to ensure the attack did not compromise patient information, the hospital decided to shut down the portions of its network that communicated with the internet and its email servers. This effort successfully prevented the attackers from accessing any patient records or other internal hospital information," the indictment states.

    The shutdown of the Children's Hospital's website, external internet porta, and email servers impacted communication throughout the Boston-area medical community, prosecutors note. It also disrupted an important fundraising period for the hospital by disabling the Children's Hospital fundraising portal....

    A federal law enforcement official tells ISMG that it's rare for DDoS-related cases to be prosecuted. "These are hard cases. It's so easy for bad actors to rent a DDoS platform, and many of these attacks are launched outside the U.S," he says.

  2. A statement from the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts says that Gottesfeld is accused of shutting down a hospital network “in response to its treatment of Patient A.” The case involved a teenage girl who was in a “high-profile” custody battle, according to the U.S. Attorney. Specifically, the government says that Gottesfeld posted a video to YouTube in March 2014 (above) directing viewers to a page that would give hackers relevant information about the hospital’s servers. The attack happened in April 2014...

    On Facebook, Gottesfeld left a comment in 2015 on the page of Boston Children’s Hospital. It read, “How dare you. #FreeJustina.” Lou and Linda Pelletier lost custody of their daughter, Justina, while she was undergoing tests at Boston Children’s Hospital. The Pelletiers disagreed with the hospital’s diagnosing their daughter as having somatoform disorder, which is psychological. She had previously been diagnosed by doctors at Tufts University Hospital as having mitochondrial disease, which creates low-energy in a person due to cell deficiency. Justina Pelletier was returned to her parents in June 2014...

    NBC’s Tom Winter reports that Gottesfeld performed the hacking “on behalf of” Anonymous. There’s been no comment on Gottesfeld from the group. He works as a senior systems engineer, according to his Twitter page...

    According to his Twitter page, which has been inactive since November 2014, Gottesfeld was also passionate about shutting down Logan River Academy, a residential treatment center in Utah. He advocated for a petition which wanted the school to “Stop using solitary confinement a.k.a. “Precaution,” and “Development,” on kids.”

    The school has denied that its staff use such measures, though former students have refuted those claims. Some former residents compared their treatment to the abuse suffered by detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The hacktivist group Anonymous had named the school has a target, also citing another reason being that many of the staff there do not have adequate training...

    Gottesfeld appeared in court on the morning of February 17. He’s facing a charge of conspiracy, a charge that carries the possibility of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The Somerville Patch reports that Boston Children’s Hospital says that it lost more than $300,000, during and because of the cyber attack.

  3. Carmen Ortiz, a federal prosecutor in Massachusetts with a history of highly-criticized political prosecutions – including one that drove a programming prodigy to suicide – is now targeting an anti-child abuse activist for his role in hacking the donation page of Boston Children’s Hospital in 2014.

    Martin Gottesfeld, 32, said he only did so to keep the hospital from torturing a teenage girl, whose custody was stripped by the state at the request of the hospital.

    Now the Anonymous hacktivist, who has been incarcerated in Rhode Island for nine months, has been on a hunger strike for two months and has lost over 50 pounds. He says he won’t stop until the president-elect addresses the issue of institutionalized child abuse.

    After 45 days, death is a real possibility due to risks of cardiovascular collapse or severe infection. He is close to his 60th day if he has not surpassed it.

    Previously, Gottesfeld’s activism helped raise awareness about the rampant abuse at the Logan River Academy boarding school after learning about abusive conditions children from his brother-in-law who was a resident there.

    Anonymous launched a campaign to shut down Logan and raise awareness about abuse at the residential treatment center for troubled teens. Although the Logan River Academy remains open, the group has brought attention to problems of abuse and corruption within the “troubled teen” industry...

    That’s when Martin Gottesfeld, who spent his career building cyber defenses, decided to go on the offensive for the first time.

    In June of 2014, Gottesfeld knew BCH’s big donation day was coming up and decided to hit BCH “where they appear to care the most, the pocket book and reputation,” he wrote in a letter from jail published in the Huffington Post.

    He knew from his previous career experience as a biotech that hospitals are required by federal law to be able to function without the internet, so no patients would be harmed.

    After previous attacks, BCH bragged to the media they were withstanding the attack.

    “They had no idea what was to come.”

    Gottesfeld coded for two weeks and finished writing the DDoS code just in time for donation day. Since BCH keeps their donation page on the same public network at the rest of their stuff, Gottesfeld’s attacked aimed at knocking the whole hospital off the internet.

    The hack ran for several hours then he issued a command to stop the attacks.

    “Then, with some donation time still left, I issued the command to stop the attacks—the point had been made. Justina wasn’t defenseless. Under the banner of Anonymous, she and other institutionalized children could and would be protected. There have been no such egregious parentectomies published at BCH since,” Gottesfeld wrote in his letter to Huffington Post...

    Now he faces 5 years in prison for the deed of hacking Boston Children’s Hospital’s website on their big donation day, although he remains unapologetic about it.

    “I’d rather die than give the government another hacking conviction,” he told the Washington Times.

    Gottesfeld argues he’s the target of a political prosecution, and that he didn’t commit a crime. Instead, his actions were aimed at protecting Justina

    “I didn’t commit a crime. Defending another human being from possible bodily harm or death is not a crime,” he said in the a recording from jail explaining what he hopes to accomplish with his hunger strike.

    “When the judge decided to maintain temporary custody of Justina with the state, the Pelletiers were furious. They took their complaints to every authority they could think of: the district attorney, the attorney general, the governor’s office, even the FBI.” No one intervened to help the family,” wrote the Boston Globe about the Pelletier family.

    No one intervened to help the family.

    On June 18, 2014, shortly after Gottesfeld took BCH website offline, Justina was returned to her parents.

  4. Imprisoned human rights activist, journalist, and author Martin Gottesfeld wrote this article on the 55th day of his prison hunger strike and submitted it from solitary confinement at Metropolitan Correctional Center New York...

    On the 43rd day of my hunger strike I was told the U.S. Marshalls had ordered my transfer to a facility in New York that was better equipped to handle my medical condition. At that point I had gone about four days without any fluids whatsoever and to make my wishes and refusal to provide medical consent crystal clear, I had written “No IV DNR” on the inside of both my elbows…

    On the way, they refused to stop and get food for themselves even when I told them I wouldn’t mind and that I could no longer simply just return to eating normally when I wished…

    Hours later, we arrived.

    “Can you walk?” the sergeant asked me.

    My mouth was dry, my kidneys hurt constantly, and I was prone to muscle cramps from dehydration and low electrolyte levels. Standing made me dizzy and I fatigued easily. However, I had rested in the van, and felt up to the Wolfenstein-esque maze of halls and locked doors that are typical for the prison intake/discharge process.

    “I think so,” I replied.

    They took my blood pressure as I sat, stood, and laid down, as well as my blood glucose, oxygen saturation, and pulse. They did their customary TB test and then took my weight for the first time in three days without fluids. My last measure had been 171 pounds, down from where I had started my strike at 204. I weighed in at 158 pounds, almost the entire recent 13 pound drop was due to dehydration.

    When I go back out to the receiving desk, the staff ask me to confirm how long I had been on the strike.

    “October 3rd” I told them. They are surprised.

    “You haven’t eaten anything?” they ask.

    “I was taking some fluids until a few days ago: water, Gatorade, occasionally chicken broth, and Jello.” (You may be surprised, as I was, to hear that medically speaking Jello is considered a clear fluid.) “No solid food.”

    “The Interrogator” called me a “fraud” and said, “That’s not a hunger strike,” and told them to be sure to turn off the water in my cell. I briefly thought about responding that I’d like to see him do what I had and then I’d be happy to discuss what exactly does and does not constitute a hunger strike, but I thought better of it. I asked to call my wife, and was told I’d have to speak to my unit staff about it but that I should be able to make “some” calls with the lieutenant.

    Then he told me that once I pass out, they would be allowed to hydrate me to keep me alive. I informed him I have a DNR, health care proxy, and living will; that my wife has very specific instructions and that she knows who she married. He asked to see those documents which he had to know I could not provide while I’m held incommunicado, before telling me they didn’t matter, that the Bureau of Prisons has legal authority to keep me alive.

    Technically, he was right, but ethically it’s a much foggier area and I’m sure he knew this. It was a tense conversation between us, we were like oil and water…(continued)

  5. (continued)The prison guards who were with me were not amused by all of this. When we got back to the SHU, they put me in a different cell with frigid air blowing in constantly, and standing water pooled on the floor. For someone whose immune system is compromised by more than a month of starvation that is a massive infection waiting to happen…

    I was tired, in pain, and fatigued just from walking around. I slept most of the rest of the day but was disturbed so I could decline lunch and dinner, the 128th and 129th consecutive meals that I had turned away. Each time I declined I asked to speak to my wife and was denied…

    After a few minutes, the stale green water, that had been pent up for who knows how long, had all come out, and cleaner, cleaner water is replacing it, pouring out from the cell across the hall. The blanket under my door is working, but there’s between a half-inch to an inch of water outside. My bag of legal work looks dry from my view, but I can’t really tell…

    Following inquiries from journalists, Gottesfeld reports his cell is no longer cold and the standing water has been fixed, and he has been able to call his wife twice in two days. He is still in the SHU, and took in fluids to allow for an investigation of his case. As of today, Monday January 2nd, Marty is refusing all fluids.

  6. Dana Gottesfeld said what her husband allegedly did was participate in a sit-in online. It is like “if you show up to McDonald’s with 300 people, and then no paying customers can get in.” He engaged in the “modern-day equivalent of protest for civil rights.”

    The couple tried to sail from Miami in early 2016 and was found near Cuba by a Disney cruise ship. In need of aid, the ship helped them, but the FBI learned of Marty Gottesfeld’s whereabouts and later arrested him...

    On October 3, 2016, Marty Gottesfeld launched a hunger strike. He was at the Wyatt federal detention center in Rhode Island but was moved to Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he currently is in indefinite solitary confinement.

    He is refusing fluids and will not let medical personnel take medical tests because he says staff will not treat him with “dignity.” He objects to being cuffed everywhere outside of his cell and how staff restrict his ability to call his wife.

    There currently is no scheduled date for a trial, as his case is still in the discovery phase. It could be more than a year before he gets a chance to defend himself in a court of law.

  7. The wife of a jailed activist, who faces felony charges for a digital sit-in against the Boston Children’s Hospital website, demands President-elect Donald Trump use his influence to have the charges dropped.

    Marty Gottesfeld learned about the case of Justina Pelletier, who was institutionalized in a psychiatric ward in 2013 against her parents’ wishes. Gottesfeld allegedly organized with members of Anonymous and participated in a distributed denial of service (DDOS) operation that disrupted the donation portal for the hospital website.

    Gottesfeld was arrested in Miami in February last year and faces a conspiracy charge and charges of “intent to damage a protected computer,” which are offenses under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison and could pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution.

    Carmen Ortiz, who zealously prosecuted Aaron Swartz until he committed suicide in 2013, is the federal prosecutor leading the effort to prosecute Gottesfeld.

    “I’d like [Trump] to use his influence to get the charges dropped against Marty because of the nature of the whistleblowing, because Marty didn’t hurt anybody whereas the doctors at the hospital did hurt people and they’re not facing any charges,” Dana Gottesfeld, Marty’s wife, told Shadowproof in an interview.

    She also would like Trump to support Justina’s Law, which she said is legislation that “would protect children that become wards of the state from medical testing that doesn’t benefit them.”

    Pelletier suffers from a degenerative mitochondrial disease. She was once a figure skater but is now wheelchair bound.

    She was 15 years-old when the Boston Children’s Hospital affiliated with Harvard University institutionalized her. While a custody dispute over her care persisted, hospital staff allegedly abused her and accused her of lying about about the severity of her disease. Pelletier asked staff to help her walk, dress herself, and go to the bathroom. The staff refused to provide assistance while she was in the ward.

    Her parents sued Boston Children’s Hospital in February of last year. They also had to file for bankruptcy and almost lost their home to foreclosure, as a result of the financial toll Pelletier’s situation took on them.

  8. A man awaiting trial in the 2014 hacking of a Boston hospital's computer network says he's ending a hunger strike after 100 days.

    Martin Gottesfeld acknowledges he attacked the Boston Children's Hospital network. He was waging a hunger strike from prison to bring attention to the treatment of troubled youths by medical institutions and by prosecutors he considers overzealous.

    In a statement read by his wife outside court Wednesday the 32-year-old Gottesfeld said he'll "continue to fight and defend those who cannot defend themselves."

  9. Cockroach-infested food, freezing cells, prisoners forced to drink from the toilet and to spend 23 hours a day locked up in solitary confinement in just 20-by-12-foot cells.

    The horrific conditions sound more like a prisoner of war camp than a modern American prison in the heart of bustling Manhattan.

    But this was what human rights activist and 'hacker' Marty Gottesfeld allegedly faced when he spent more than two months locked up in New York's 'Guantanamo'; the notorious Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center, MCC.

    The 32-year-old, who has just finished a hundred-day hunger strike, has spent the last year in jail waiting for his trial after he was accused of hacking the Boston Children's Hospital in 2014 with Anonymous...

    Gottesfeld, who was originally jailed at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island, went on a hunger strike last year in protest against his treatment and the draconian sentence he faces for what he describes as nothing more than the equivalent of an alleged 'digital sit-in'.

    He also hoped that strike would help bring attention to the treatment of troubled teens and young wards of the state such as Pelletier.

    But the strike has an unforeseen result. Six weeks in, on November 15, Marty was transferred to the notorious MCC. The Manhattan jail is home of some of the world's most dangerous criminals including 9/11 terrorist Ramzi Yousef, crime boss John Gotti and Mexican drugs lord El Chapo...

    Exhausted, and in serious pain as his body, in particular his kidneys, struggled with the lack of food and liquid during the strike, Marty says he was often left without as much as a pen and paper to distract himself.

    Instead, he would try and solve mathematics and engineering equations in his mind.

    Just half way into the strike, Gottesfeld had lost 47 pounds and went for days at a time without even consuming liquids.

    Watching her husband literally waste away in front of her eyes, Dana says she was terrified but knew he wouldn't abandon his cause, even if it killed him.

    'He was at death's door. He wanted to bring attention to his fellow inmates,' she said. 'He feels like if he doesn't do it, no one will.

    'He's the type of person, he is interested in sticking by principles and making a statement even if the costs are high - if that's the right thing to do.'

    One incident that made it a little easier to refuse food was when he says he woke up to hear the guards yelling after he found cockroaches in his food tray.

    While he was threatened repeatedly with the brutal process of force feeding, he was able to reach his aim of one hundred days. He is still recovering several weeks later.

    'He used to be pretty built – he did a lot of sport when he was younger. Now his muscle is gone,' Dana said. 'He's just resting now, recuperating.'

    She said that medical teams at the hospital had been extremely concerned about his health during the strike, 'particularly just a few days before the end when he was on a six day no liquid diet.'

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