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FBI Raids Georgia Tech Student's Dorm over Wikileaks Chat Room (UPDATE 1)

UPDATE: A roommate of Chen called APN to say that the roommate had received the note left by APN.  He said he would forward the note to Chen.  He said that Chen had met with the university's administration yesterday and was advised not to speak to any more media.

(APN) ATLANTA -- On Thursday, January 27, 2011, the Federal Bureau of Investigations raided the dorm room of Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) student Zhiwei "Jack" Chen, after the FBI obtained a warrant to search for materials related to Operation Payback (OP).

OP was an effort by a group of activists and hackers, called Anonymous, to take down websites Aiplex Software, Bank of America, Mastercard, MPAA, Paypal, RIAA, Visa, and US Copyright Office, after these sites refused to process donations for Wikileaks or otherwise adversely impacted Wikileaks.

The raid was first reported by the Technique student newspaper of Georgia Tech.

The raid is one of about 40 that took place around the country in connection with the investigation of OP.

Atlanta Progressive News has attempted to contact Chen by his campus email address, but has not heard back.  APN also visited Chen's dorm, Towers Hall, earlier today, but all the doors were locked and there was no front desk.  APN provided a resident of the dorm with a handritten note for Chen, which the student said he would deliver to Chen's room.

Chen, 18, is a freshman studying Computer Engineering, according to Tech's website.

After the incident, Chen posted a message on the website Reddit, along with a link to a photograph posted on, of the warrant that he was served, an inventory of the property seized from his room, and a business card left by the FBI agent.

The Reddit post was titled "IAMA Person Questioned about Operation Payback."

"FBI had a warrant to take all my electronics," Chen wrote.  "They came in the dorm room bustin in @ 7:00, and pushed everyone out of bed.  They searched the place and questioned all people involved."

"I was a passive admin for Operation Payback, and quit early to avoid complications with the law, but it seems the FBI has gotten the better of me," Chen wrote.

"Questions shall be answered whenever I have time, and when I find a public computer to use as they seized all my electronic assets," Chen wrote.

"TL;DR: FBI took all my stuff and questioned me about OP.  Also, AMA," Chen wrote.

"Before his account [apparently his Reddit account] was deleted, Chen offered more details surrounding the situation.  Upon request, he posted a copy of the search warrant and the identity of the FBI agent who executed the search," Technique reported.

"He also stated that he never participated in the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, but confirmed that he was an administrator on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel used to coordinate the operations," Technique reported.

The search warrant cited a case number, 1:11-MJ-0078, but said the case was under seal.  The warrant was approved by United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Magistrate Judge Russel G. Vineyard.  It was issued January 25, 2010.

The warrant stated, "TO: Special Agent Roderick Franklin Coffin and any Authorized Officer of the United States.  Affidavit(s) having been made before me by Roderick Franklin Coffin who has reason to believe that on the property or premises known as... See Attachment A... in the Northern District of Georgia there is now concealed a certain person or property, namely... See Attachment B... which constitutes evidence of the commission of a criminal offense and property which has been used as the means of committing a criminal offense, concerning violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section(s) 1030.  I find the affidavit(s) establishes probable cause to search and seize the person or property from the person or premises described above."

The inventory of property taken from Chen's room included computers, an IPhone, handwritten notes, a digital camara, and URB drives.

Chen has denied being involved in Operation Payback, aside from having been a passive administrator on a chat room site for the group, Anonymous, that has been used to carry out OP.

"I thought 'Oh, there are some intelligent people here to chat with,' and apparently that got me into some extreme trouble," he told 11Alive news.

"I'm not involved in the attack on these sites," Chen said.  "I feel devastated personally.  Pretty much my life's been invaded.  [The FBI] required me to give all my passwords I have and they pretty much took all my accounts, everything."

"Chen hasn't been charged with any crime and he says it could be weeks or months before he knows anything about the investigation. He is asking FBI agents to return his study materials and class documents," 11Alive reported.

The FBI issued a press release regarding the multiple search warrants executed.

"FBI agents today executed more than 40 search warrants throughout the United States as part of an ongoing investigation into recent coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations.  Also today, the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service executed additional search warrants and arrested five people for their alleged role in the attacks," the FBI wrote.

"These distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) are facilitated by software tools designed to damage a computer network’s ability to function by flooding it with useless commands and information, thus denying service to legitimate users.  A group calling itself 'Anonymous' has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions.  The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet.  The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries," the FBI wrote.
"The FBI also is reminding the public that facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability," the FBI wrote.

"The FBI is working closely with its international law enforcement partners and others to mitigate these threats.  Authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, and France have also taken their own investigative and enforcement actions," the FBI wrote.

(END / 2011)

Comments (23)

Ayman Fadel
Said this on 1-29-2011 At 06:05 pm

Well, I've a lot more pride in my Ga Tech degree now. Is it a crime to believe anybody who participated in or contributed to these denial of service attacks to be heroes? I'm guilty.

Art Brennan
Said this on 1-29-2011 At 07:39 pm

Leave it to the feds to turn their backs on torture and murder and go after people who are standing up for the 1st Amendment!

Said this on 1-31-2011 At 12:59 pm

Hear hear

Said this on 1-31-2011 At 05:32 pm

I'm not sure how criminally attacking a business that chooses not to do business with an organization you happen to like falls under "standing up for the First Amendment".  But sure.  Whatever.  Just keep believing that anything that upsets the status quo is for the greater good.

Would a business be within its rights to refuse to deal with Al-qaeda?  Absolutely.  It is also within its right to refuse to deal with an anti poverty charity, and any organization in between.

But yeah.  The 1st Amendment.  DDoS attacks sure do prevent it.

Said this on 1-31-2011 At 05:33 pm

protect*, not prevent. Sorry.
Art Brennan
Said this on 1-31-2011 At 07:54 pm

Peter, I know what you're saying and I understand it.  I used to think that way when I was young and I never hesitated to put in my two cents.  Really, I am most troubled by torture, murder and extrajudicial executions.  No one is even investigating the crimes which appear to have been committed at the highest levels of our government.  I am a veteran and a retired judge (you probably think "none to soon") but my heart and head are dealing with these issues just the way yours are. 

Said this on 1-29-2011 At 09:34 pm

The worst law in history to break is not killing a poor innocent civilian, but interfering with big business or the money of those individuals. They are just trying to forget the fact they are responsible for the murders that took place, and they refuse to be held accountable.

We live in a authoritarian dictatorship with its headquaters being in the USA, and smoothered with the dellusional belief of something that hasn't existed for a long time, Freedom.

I do believe the New World Order does exist and not the one that you see in the blockbuster film. God is our only chance.

Said this on 1-31-2011 At 12:01 am

you go to live in China, or Vietnam, or North Korea...and know what is a dictator. stupid.

Art Brennan
Said this on 1-31-2011 At 02:59 pm

Richard, I know you're trying to give a terse and effective answer to #3 but having to make the extreme comparison weakens your argument.  Nobody who cares enough to think and talk about these important matters is "stupid."  We need facts and we need to be able to discuss them and Wikileaks has been a big step forward for all of us.

Ace Tomato
Said this on 1-30-2011 At 02:18 am

That case number goes to a new york gun case, US v Rodger Freeman, charged with being a felon in possession of a 9mm. 

Said this on 1-30-2011 At 02:54 am

I double-checked and that is the case number that is listed in the photo provided by the student of the warrant he received.

Said this on 1-30-2011 At 02:32 am

Operation Payback was dumb. It was dumb not in its intent or goal, but dumb because the people whom they attacked had the resources to guarantee that guilty parties would be caught. I don't mind civil disobedience. However, if you break the law, don't bitch when you get caught. Picking on Scientology was child's play in comparison.

But if you really want to support Wikileaks, you can take part in crowdjournalism. Look up cables, post articles, and get the word out on those leaks. That's a productive and (for now) legal way to help.

Jack Jersawitz
Said this on 1-31-2011 At 06:11 am

I whole heartedly agree that attacking those who prevent the transmission of funding to WikiLeaks, an organization deeply involved in exposing the criminality of this U.S. government of murderers, torturers, kidnappers and war criminals, is not a violation of the law but rather a taking of the actions against governmental law breakers and their accomplices that the edicts (Set out by U.S. jurists) at Nuremburg require of lawful citizens.

I would add further that given the open and public knowlege of the crimes revealed in the WikiLeaks documents any judge that issues such a search warrant without at least a full and open public hearing is himself verging dangerously close to gross abuse of authority and of becoming, thereby, a party to the government crimes, let alone the FBI harrassment of law abiding citizens doing exactly what the Nuremburg Jurists required every citizen to do.

Obviously this student, Zhiwei Chen, needs an attorney who will go to court and take up a fight on behalf of this student victim of FBI and U.S. government crimes.

I hope Mr. Chen and others affected by these criminal acts of the FBI, who ought to be arresting the war criminal Obama and building a case for his indictment, trial, conviction, and hanging, will not simply try to disentangle themselves but rather take this opportunity to fight back, to put the real criminals in the dock.

To that end a defense organization for Mr. Chen and others ought to be extablished on the Tech Campus. 

In that regard I would like to help but I would warn, so you know and won't be therefore further targetted without knowing, that I myself am no doubt the subject of many pages of FBI files and have been visited and lost many jobs over the years, as a result of FBI action.

At any rate my contact information is

Jack Jersawitz



Said this on 1-30-2011 At 02:55 am

I've seen some twisted logic these days over this Wikileaks mess, but calling an attack on worldwide commerce, via attacking commercial websites to disrupt their and their customers' legitimate business usage, amongst other things, an "heroic" act, and the perpetrators "heroes," is more than just absurd, it's asinine.

What these "heroes" have mostly accomplished is to make it impossible for little guys and small businesses, which make up the majority of this country and others, to conduct routine business, such as to pay their bills, suppliers, etc.

I fail to see how disrupting the lives of average Americans or Britons, etc., can help to advance anyone's cause. On the contrary, it will turn people such as me--a bystander who was content to allow these "heroes" their opinions and public protests--into a counter-radical who is now contemplating ways to help to take these "heroes" down.

One way that I see where "average free commerce heroes" can make a difference, and one that is so painfully obvious that I can't believe that no one else has thought of it (at least out loud) is this: what's good for the goose is good for the gander...i.e., download the free botnet tools that "Anonymous" is offering for free on the Internet, and using these helpful tools to target Wikileaks, and thus bring Wikileaks to its knees.

You "heroes" like to disrupt commerce? Well, what do you think that Wikileaks is? Ultimately, it is a commercial site that entices people to view classified materials for the chance to get you either to donate money to Assange, or to use one of Assange's advertisers, and thus make Assange more money. That's a commercial website, free speech aside.

So don't be surprised if on the day of the next major release of illegally obtained American documents by Assange, that there is a MASSIVE DoS attack against Wikileaks. Turn about is fair play, no?

Said this on 1-30-2011 At 02:58 am

the federal BI are nothing but a bunch of punks.

Their just afraid of having millions of people participate in OP because they dont have the resources to stop that many people so they try to make examples out of a few to scare the masses with empty threats. If you want to participate in OP just use a public network like you would use a pay phone to mess with these pigs. think about it, if you are smart enough these federal pigs can't touch you and they know it. You simply go to a public network launch your DDOS and then leave. they cant touch you. I am waiting for the first FBI pig to step through my door so i can put a bullet in his head.

Said this on 1-30-2011 At 08:41 am

I need to send me some expressions about teaching english grammer and other messages such as news, topics, something like that.

Rom Willison
Said this on 1-30-2011 At 10:20 am

There can be two possible reasons that a person with your communication skills and appearance of intelligence would take the time to write such a long comment. One. you have been living in Disneyland for at least the last ten years. And don't have a clue what the US Government has been up to in it's spare time. For instance. The Patriot Act that was created in response to 911 and supposed to expire in 2005, Was quietly renewed again last Friday and now extends it's powers for another year. Not a single post about it from Mainstream Media. That single piece of legislation nullify's about 60 percent of our Constitution. Things like Habeas Corpus, which provided Americans protection from unwarranted illegal searches and seizures,  Arrest and imprisonment with no charges filed against you. No right to a speedy jury trial of your peers. No right to counsel. Bail. Nada..You can just be grabbed and made to disappear. Did they tell you about that at Disneyland?

I wonder JDHUNTER if You heard about Joe Lieberman's "Kill The Internet Button" That he tried to sneak thru congress during the run up to the Christmas  holidays while The people were preoccupied, as was done with  great success in 1913 when a bunch of bribed paid for traitors sold America to to a bunch of wealthy banker crooks. With the passage of the Federal Reserve Act.

Here is something you might find notable. While you have been off in lala land.  A video made it's way to wikileaks and then onto   youtube. That video in living color showed from inside an Apache helicopter, operated by US troops open fire on and kill 12 Iraqi civilians, injure two baby's and kill two journalists there covering the war.  The video was just one of many that are recorded everyday. They are called ops video records.  It's been alleged the video was released by a US Army Private stationed in Iraq as an analyst who's job was to analyze daily events  and report anomaly's to higher ups for review and resolution. It's been reported that  after doing his job and bringing to his superior's attention his concerns about a procedure used between Command and Chopper pilots called a "Request for Fire Authorization" Or something like that.  Upon his second inquiry as to the status of the matter. He was ordered to leave it alone and never talk about it again. 

That JDHUNTER brings up a serious problem.  It goes like this. During our Involvement In the geopolitical. domino theory, nonsense war with communism.  A Small village of about 500 olg men, women and children and most of their livestock and pets were killed by a platoon of us solders. The Military covered up as best they could but it got out. The world was outraged. It was a big deal. The event was dubbed The My Lai Massacre.

Because of that disaster. Regulations and procedures were put in place and made law the were designed to prevent that type of thing from ever happening again. Included were Safe havens for whistle blowers. So now we have a problem. When that analyst was ordered to back off. That very order would make him an accomplice to in a Cover up of a potential war crime at worst. And if the matter that concerned him was not addressed and more innocent people were killed because it happened again. Well You can do the math on that.  If i were that private I would have been destroyed by the order from above. That order says to me. I guess all that programming I got as a child us being the good guys was all a crock. And here's the kicker JDHUNTER. When that private signed his contract with America when he enlisted. That contract was with "WE THE PEOPLE" Not the US government or the Military, They work for us also. Everything they do they are supposed to be doing in our name. 

So JDHUNTER if in fact, you have been in some other solar system or in a coma or something. Get a pass. If not I would think it very possible that you are one of two potentials. One you are what I call a "Polarizer" ie a person getting paid to go from, site to site. and blog to blog posting comments that are designed to keep the attention on those dastardly wikileakers, and away from the real issues that your hidden masters don't want to see the light of day.

Or JDHUNTER could you be part of the FBI and at the direction of your corporate masters that are out there raiding college dorms and private homes and seizing every electronic device that they can find, and not charging anyone, and arresting very few. For what? Certainly not a bunch of kids that got some media coverage for slowing down how fast Paypal,Visa and Mastercard can take in money.  I think it more likely that you might be Mr Justice Dept. Hunter out going franticly searching and hoping to find Wikileaks 256 bit Encryption Key. That will open the Thermo Nuke Insurance Bomb That Julian Assange has stated he is holding. The Attack On Free speech and Press as shown by Mubarak and his shutting down of the net, Along with The amount of effort and expence. that' is being and the put into painting Private Manning as a disaffected solder. And Assange the rapst. Is not fooling everybody. In fact people are seeing George Bushes staged dead incubator baby's  Weapons of Mass distraction, War on Terrorism for what it is.  And that's the abject horror that is being felt by everybody that's been taking part in the destruction and complete looting of America because they don't know what is in JA's insurance file. 



Said this on 4-2-2011 At 09:05 pm


All that you have proved with your "Disneyland" rant is that you are just another tiresome radical with no real facts or proof--just an agenda.  I won't bother to debate most of what you've written: Res Ipsa Loquiter ("It speaks for itself").  I will, however, correct you in one instance just to show others how wrong and misinformed you are.

You said, and I quote: "When that private signed his contract with America when he enlisted. That contract was with "WE THE PEOPLE" Not the US government or the Military, They work for us also. Everything they do they are supposed to be doing in our name."

To prove how very wrong you are, I am now posting an exact copy of the Oaths of Enlistment for all branches of the us military services:

In the Armed Forces EXCEPT the National Guard (Army or Air)

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

In the National Guard (Army or Air)

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of (STATE NAME) against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of (STATE NAME) and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to law and regulations. So help me God.

You will please note that both versions make no mention whatsoever of "We the People."  What they do state is that enlistees will obey the orders of the president of the US and their superior officers (plus their Governor, in the case of the National Guard).

Now, doesn't it feel terrible to be so completely wrong about such an important subject?  It brings into question your statements about all of the other subjects about which you hold forth in your paranoid diatribe against the good people who run this country and fight for it.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that I believe that all US government personnel, military and civilian, are upstanding citizens who deserve medals.  But neither do I believe that these same people deserve blanket condemnation under your skewed view of the state of things.

It's too bad that people like you cannot use all of this negative energy that you spew forth so voluminously for the benefit of positive causes, such as poverty, homelessness, etc.  With all of your tireless blathering on behalf of a country that does not want to hear your paranoid, delusional rantings, you could have the real problems in this country fixed up in no time.  As crazy as it sounds, the good people who run legitimate charities would probably even welcome help from the likes of you.

Well, now that you've been proved hopelessly wrong, either by making up facts or by falling prey to the "False Authority" syndrome, you should feel compelled to go out to fix the world, but I fear that the only energy that we will get out of your dressing down will be another useless, delusional, fact-free, paranoid rant all about the horrible people who are ruining this country, either in this space or elsewhere.  Oh, well.  At least I tried.

Said this on 4-3-2011 At 02:54 am

JLHUNTER.. I stand corrected. I would like your opinion on a couple of matters of interest to me. If you would be so kind? Seems to me that if, as you state regarding the oaths that people swear to when they sign up. That they are only responsible to our president and their superiors. Maybe you could tell me who those people work for and represent. While your at it. I would be interested in knowing why my tax dollars are paying their wages.

The really sad part of the whole matter is. With the exception of Ron Paul and a very few others. The is nobody that has taken those oaths actually defending our Constitution. Our Constitution was converted into toilet paper in 1909-1913. It has been violated from the top down. The last four administrations have all contributed to even further degradation. Why? Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetary? What did all those people die for? I've got family and friends underneath those white crosses. Do you?   

Said this on 1-30-2011 At 11:39 pm



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Said this on 1-31-2011 At 01:47 am

Don't ride on root if you can help it.  Riding on root makes you an admin automatically because root is admin.  Create a lower level user in your computer to ride on instead.  Riding on root leaves you a scape goat for hackers and gov looking for stuff to blame.

Said this on 1-31-2011 At 07:14 pm

In America, businesses have the freedom to choose their customers and clients, and to refuse service to anyone at their discretion.  These businesses chose not to have Wikileaks as a client, but they did not violate the Constitution or any law in doing so.  It makes no difference how you feel about Wikileaks, government secrets, or politics.  Justifying an attack on BofA and Mastercard by calling it defense of the First Ammendment makes no logical sense whatsoever.  By extension you would also feel justified in shooting a convenient store clerk that refuses to sell you beer because you aren't wearing a shirt.  That sign reading "no shirt no shoes no service" is not a violation of the First Ammendment: it's just a business refusing service to customers they don't want to be associated with.  A casino is perfectly in their rights to kick you out if they suspect you of counting cards, despite the fact it's not against the law and they may not even be able to prove you were doing it.  But why no DDoS attack against Circle K or Harrah's?  If Mastercard refuses my application for a credit card can I send them an email virus and make it a Constitutional issue before the Supreme Court?

Said this on 4-23-2011 At 12:13 am

we do not like to be oppressed. you should not naturally like being under the boot of someone you write a paycheck to. we all should tell our respective govenments that they are fortunate they live in a world of representative democracy of some sort. if they lived in a world of direct democracy, then kick ass in real life does seem quite a scary concept for them...

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