Isn't that Byronic?
May 15, 2012 10:33 AM   Subscribe

Computer security consultant Byron Sonne (previously, previously) has been acquitted of charges he plotted to attack the G20 summit in Toronto.
posted by unSane (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm really confused by what he did here. He intentionally acted in a way such that the authorities would think he was plotting a terrorist attack? Why?
posted by empath at 10:46 AM on May 15, 2012

This Toronto Life article is probably the best introduction to what Byron thought he was up to.
posted by unSane at 11:01 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

No. He really fucking didn't "intentionally look like he was plotting" any attack. He took pictures and video of fences and cameras and posted them to the public along with musings on how to bypass the illegal, deceptive policing occurring around those installations. He also happened to have unrelated hobbies involving chemistry and physics, which he also participated in publicly and legally, and the police wanted to punish him.

Keep in mind that when this case started, he was charged with weapons offences for having a goddamn potato gun, and that the police basically took any obscure Magic Electronic Box and labelled it a "detonator."
posted by mobunited at 11:07 AM on May 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

I was just going to link the same article unSane did. In a nutshell he did draw attention to himself by being a very public critic of "security theater" and pointing out vulnerabilities of the G20 security and basically behaving in some ways that could reasonably be considered suspicious (although in an extremely dumb way if an attack had been his actual plan). The "explosive ingredients" issue seems to be well-explained by his many hobbies, it was nothing terribly exotic and I never saw a shred of evidence that he wanted to make bombs or collected information on the how of making bombs, and he certainly never tried to make bombs. Four of the charges he was acquitted on were for the explosives (again, he definitely possessed no explosives) and the "counselling mischief not committed" seems pretty 1984 to me. Nobody actually acted on his writings and none of his writings I've seen were proselytizing any kind of action.

So yes, it seems like he wanted to get the authorities' attention and more so public attention and possibly anticipated being arrested. It's certain he did not grasp the level of consequences he faced, to me it seems obvious that the charges were rightly dropped. I have trouble feeling sorry for him too (poke a bear, you know) but what he has suffered is grossly disproportionate to what he did, which was next to nothing.
posted by nanojath at 11:19 AM on May 15, 2012

His plan: engage in borderline illegal activities, attract the attention of law enforcement and establish proof of the limits of Canadian freedom.

Your quote: Not by Sonne himself, but conjecture from a TL writer who later explains his limited access to Sonne. See, there is a less alarmist definition of "borderline illegal."

It's called legal.

By accepting the premise, you're basically arguing that this dude aligned his whole life to the cause of annoying the authorities. This point of view would have a lot of support because it was the Crown's position. The idea that his attempts to remotely melt chocolate and build model rockets were part of a Deep Greater Scheme was the thing the Crown *made up* and *failed to prove.*
posted by mobunited at 11:42 AM on May 15, 2012 [8 favorites]

> the police basically took any obscure Magic Electronic Box and labelled it a "detonator."

Yeah, I think they labelled some LM35s - very innocuous solid-state temperature sensors - as detonators. Your home electronics probably have tens of these quietly chugging away.

I'm very pleased that he's free. Now he needs to get compensation.
posted by scruss at 11:57 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm happy he's free.

The next step in this farce? The civil suit he promised to bring once acquitted. Who knows how much this is going to cost the public once it's over. All for what? Some quixotic desire by the Toronto PD to punish a vocal critic?

I have trouble feeling sorry for him too (poke a bear, you know)...

This attitude is part of the problem. The whole purported reason for our bloated, intrusive security apparatus is to keep us safe. If we are wise to treat it like an unpredictably violent wild animal, why is it there? I'm glad there are people like Byron Sonne out there poking the bear, because I'm not brave enough to be made a living example of why we should be afraid of the police.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:21 PM on May 15, 2012 [8 favorites]

Screencap of Byron's Twitter feed. Note the timestamps.
posted by twirlip at 3:39 PM on May 15, 2012

Here is an article about Somme in the Toronto Star this morning, which appears to have plenty of quotes from the man himself.
posted by cranberrymonger at 6:22 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

This CBC interview is also very good.
posted by scruss at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2012

He's also blogging up a storm: torontogoat.
posted by scruss at 6:54 PM on May 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

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