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‘Hacktivist’ bail reduced, finally

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A so-called hacker arrested during the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia last week and slapped with a whopping $500,000 bail requirement is about to be released after a local judge reduced his burden to a more manageable $100,000 during a hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The accused, one Terrence McGuckin, who works as a staffer on 2600 Magazine (hence the 'hacker' assumption), goes by the alias ShapeShifter. He has been called a 'ringleader' in last week's largely peaceful protests, which nevertheless yielded to a proud Philly PD several hundreds of arrests.

Local prosecutors opposed the bail reduction and tried to associate McGuckin with roving gangs of dangerous Leftists who had protested, occasionally with some violence, during international trade meetings in Washington and Seattle earlier this year.

Police say McGuckin is accused of a misdemeanor, but no one is quite sure what the charges pending against him really are. News reports indicate that the government will press charges of conspiracy if and when they get to trial. Witnesses have reported that he was arrested while walking along a footpath and talking on a mobile phone, a sure sign of dangerously anti-social tendencies if ever we saw one.

McGuckin has said he belongs to the Philadelphia Direct Action Group and AIDS advocacy group ACT-UP, both of which practice, and even encourage, civil disobedience.

"(We) are challenging the whole electoral process, both Republicans and Democrats, the way the system....doesn't represent people but corporations," McGuckin told the Philadelphia Inquirer during a July interview.

Other so-called hackers at the RNC, including other contributors to 2600, helped monitor police radio frequencies so that reporters could bear witness to scenes of tension in a timely manner. None of the others appears to have been so brazen as to speak on a mobile phone in public, however.

Co-defendant and Ruckus Society leader John Sellers had been held on an incredible $1 million bail, but saw his burden reduced as well, again over the objections of a disappointed local government.

"He facilitates the more radical elements to accomplish their objective of violence and mayhem," Assistant District Attorney Cindy Martelli bleated. The late Spiro Agnew could not have said it better during the halcyon days of mass Nixonian paranoia. ®

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