In the summer of 2012, the FBI with assistance from French and Dutch police shut down applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com, three sites that offered Android apps outside Google’s ecosystem.
The action was heralded as ground-breaking, with the authorities seizing the domains of these alternative stores and putting up the now-infamous FBI banner to inform visitors of their fate. Together it was claimed the sites were responsible for millions of dollars in losses to software producers.
News of the shutdowns came in August 2012, but it took until last week for the U.S. Government to provide a significant update. The Department of Justice revealed that two of the three operators of the Appbucket site had signed a plea deal with the Government and now face sentencing in June.
But while the Appbucket guys appear to have accepted their fate, the former admin of Applanet certainly has not. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Attorney Rain Minns says her client is still under fire, but won’t be giving in.
“It is extremely unfortunate that some of the young people targeted by the government’s dragnet have been forced to plead guilty,” Minns told TF.
“But this is an inevitable, and incredibly sad and disheartening, consequence when the United States unleashes the power and resources of the most powerful nation on earth against defenseless citizens who, like Aaron, care about free and open world-wide access to publicly available information, and who have not earned any significant income for their efforts.”
But while Minns says that the mere threat of a long prison term is enough for even the most innocent citizen to plead guilty, that isn’t going to be happening in Aaron’s case.
“Aaron is an extraordinarily brave and ethical young man, who is not willing to buckle under the pressure of the government’s abusive practices. He believes that someone should stand up to abuse of power, and he is willing to put himself at risk if that is the only way to keep information sites free and open.”
To that end and in an effort to level the playing field against the Government, Minns informs TF that Aaron’s legal team has just received a significant boost.
“After an extensive vetting process, I have now been joined by Attorney Antonio Ponvert III, an accomplished and much-feared civil rights lawyer from Connecticut who, to put it plainly, has enjoyed kicking the government’s ass for almost 25 years,” Minns explains.
“Antonio’s task is to take the offense in Aaron’s case, focusing on the government’s violation of state and federal civil rights laws, the First Amendment free speech implications of the government’s tactics, and the substantial reputational and financial harm that the D.O.J. has inflicted, and will continue to inflict on Aaron. One can be sure that a damages case is coming down the pike if, and when, an indictment is forthcoming.”
Through his lawyer Aaron informed TF that while it’s a pity that the Appbucket guys were “forced to buckle under the heavy-handed threats of the government”, he wishes them luck as he looks forward to his own day in court.
From the tone of the language employed by Rain Minns and by extension Antonio Ponvert, there appears to be plenty of appetite for a fight, should the Government decide to go the whole way against Aaron. If they do, Minns is confident he will prevail.
“It is not even close to a fair fight anymore. And we look forward to the battle,” she concludes.