Andrew Auernheimer demands restitution of 28,296 bitcoins, about $13.2 million, after his conviction was overturned.
Fresh from his release from prison, Andrew "Weev" Auernheimer is demanding the US government compensate him for his time behind bars in what is perhaps the government's least favorite currency: bitcoin.
A hacker and Internet troll, Auernheimer was released from custody last month after serving more than three years in prison for breaking into an AT&T Web site and stealing data of more than 100,000 iPad users. He was released after his 2012 conviction was vacated last month by a federal appeals court.
In a lengthy letter to the US federal government on Tuesday, Auernheimer describes his 2011 arrest and time under federal supervision before his trial.
"I have, over the course of 3 years, been made the victim of a criminal conspiracy by those in the federal government," he wrote in his "invoice" to the government. "This was a conspiracy of sedition and treason, perpetrated with violence by a limited number of federal agents to deprive me of my constitutional rights to a fair trial and unlawfully put me in prison. This is not a hallucination on my part."
He also demanded restitution for the time he was incarcerated at the rate of one bitcoin for each hour served -- an amount he calculated at 28,296 bitcoins, about $13.2 million at current exchange rates. He wrote that he demands to be paid in bitcoins because he doesn't accept US dollars "as it is the preferred currency of criminal organizations such as the FBI, DOJ, ATF, and Federal Reserve and I do not assist criminal racketeering enterprises."
The federal government has never been much of a fan of the cryptocurrency. Earlier this month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission issued an advisory warning investors to be wary of Bitcoin and other virtual-currency related investments. While not advising investors to avoid Bitcoin altogether, the agency noted that the cryptocurrency is uninsured, unregulated, and volatile.
Auernheimer's letter refers to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh as one of "the greatest patriots of our generation" and says he will use funds -- were the federal government to pay them -- to build a series of "memorial groves" to McVeigh, as well as Andrew Stack and Marvin Heemeyer, two men who died as the result of violent clashes with government officials.
Auernheimer and co-defendant Daniel Spitler were arrested and charged in January 2011 after they discovered a hole in 2010 in AT&T's Web site that allowed access to iPad users' e-mail addresses and unique identifiers used to authenticate the devices to AT&T's 3G wireless network.
In an interview with CNET in 2010, Auernheimer admitted that the hackers had compromised the AT&T 3G iPad customer Web site and released data on 120,000 accounts, but they said they did so with the intention of warning AT&T and protecting consumers.
Auernheimer, who was convicted under the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, was released from prison in April after a federal appeals court vacated his conviction. Instead of taking issue with the controversial law, the US Court of Appeals found that Auernheimer had been tried in the wrong court.