Matt is a former US Air National Guard drone team member and alleged WikiLeaks courier who worked with the hactivist group Anonymous. After becoming the subject of a national security investigation — and allegations relating to a teenage pornography case which he vehemently denies — he fled from the United States to Canada with his family to seek political asylum and protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In what represents a moral victory for the DeHart family, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board judge found that the teenage pornography case against Matt lacked credibility. However, because the IRB considered that the United States still had a functioning democracy, they denied his claim, and on 1 March, 2015 Matt DeHart was handed over into US federal custody.
While serving with the US Air National Guard, Matt DeHart had become disillusioned with post-9/11 America when he realized that the CIA knew it was killing children and innocents. A longtime member of Anonymous, in mid-September 2009, he found an unprotected file, an FBI investigation into the CIA, on The Shell, a server he ran. He deleted the file but it later reappeared in encrypted form on another server he had access to, and was destined for WikiLeaks. Matt was honourably discharged from the military when, ostensibly, the Air National Guard deemed that his depression was incompatible with his work. However, he believes the Air National Guard knew about his online activity. “Part of my job with Anonymous was I helped people communicate securely,” he said. “I would protect people from NSA spying.”
The FBI raided the DeHart family home on 25 Jan 2010 and seized Matt’s computer together with every data storage device in the house — except for two hidden thumb drives, which he says contain Anonymous contact information, server logs from The Shell and leaked documents. Later that year, DeHart was detained at the border when returning from college in Canada. There, Matt says he was tortured and intravenously drugged against his will. FBI records of his interrogation confirm that Matt was detained for “national security” reasons and questioned about his military unit, Anonymous, WikiLeaks and espionage. During his interrogation, he was presented with a Criminal Complaint and Arrest Warrant for the solicitation of child pornography that had been filed in the afternoon after his morning detention at the border. According to Matt, the FBI told him they knew he was innocent of the charges.
Matt spent almost the next two years in various US jails while awaiting trial for the pornography charges. In 2012 a US judge, after reviewing classified FBI reports, expressed skepticism in open court over the government’s charges against Matt, and ordered that he be released on bond. Matt then returned to Canada with his parents to seek asylum, but he again found himself in detention, and under questioning by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) Intelligence and War Crimes Division. In February 2015 Canada denied Matt DeHart’s request for asylum, and on March 1, 2015 he was deported back to the US, where he is currently in federal custody.
In 2016, he was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail today in Nashville, TN, in accordance with the plea deal he was coerced into the previous year after being threatened with up to 50 years in prison. Matt has already served three and a half years in prison. He plead guilty to receiving teen ‘pornography,’ consisting of messages dated from 2008 that the US government decided to charge years later. The charging decision only came after the government became aware that Matt was a WikiLeaks and Anonymous supporter, and that Matt had discovered sensitive military files, allegedly destined for WikiLeaks, had been uploaded to a server he ran. In addition to prison time, Matt will be subject to thirteen years of post-release supervision, with likely restrictions on his computer access.