Accused Capital One hacker is at risk in jail because she is transgender, her lawyers say

Published on Friday, 23 August 2019 14:15
Written by Devlin Barrett

The Washington Post

A federal judge in Seattle will hear arguments Friday on whether a woman accused of hacking Capital One should be released from jail in part because she is transgender and that makes her time behind bars particularly difficult.

Paige Thompson “is in dire need of placement at the halfway house” because she is at risk of assault as a defendant in a jail for men, her lawyers Mohammad Ali Hamoudi and Christopher Sanders wrote in a court filing ahead of her detention hearing.

“For Ms. Thompson, a transgender woman who stands out among the male population . . . she has to regularly adapt to manage the inevitable threats to her bodily safety,” Chase Strangio, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in a letter to the court.

Thompson, an unemployed software engineer, is accused of illegally accessing more than 100 million credit card applications during a massive hack of Virginia-based Capital One. After her arrest in July, prosecutors said she also stole data from “more than 30 other companies.”

Prosecutors argue Thompson should remain in custody until trial because she has made threats to hurt others and herself, and therefore poses a danger to the community. They also say the Bureau of Prisons has made a number of accommodations for Thompson specifically because she is transgender.

“BOP is providing Thompson medications that she takes due to her transgender status,” federal prosecutors Andrew Friedman and Steven Masada wrote in a filing responding to the defense team’s request. “BOP has housed Thompson in a male unit, but has taken the unusual step of placing Thompson in a cell with her former housemate, Park Quan, with whom Thompson has expressed a preference for sharing a cell. And BOP is ensuring that staff psychologists regularly meet with Thompson and monitor Thompson’s condition.”

When federal agents seized servers from Thompson’s bedroom last month, they found “multiple terabytes” of stolen data from other companies or entities, including “educational institutions,” according to court papers.

“Although not all of those intrusions involved the theft of personal identifying information, it appears likely that a number of the intrusions did,” according to the memorandum. Prosecutors said they were still identifying all of the victims, and she is likely to face additional charges beyond the Capital One case.

Prosecutors also suggested that Thompson may have been probing the computer system at the jail where she is being held.

The jail “recently sanctioned Thompson to limit her computer usage, because she apparently was exploring and analyzing the inmate . . . system and considering ways to exceed the access she is permitted,” prosecutors wrote.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Friday, 23 August 2019 14:15. Updated: Friday, 23 August 2019 14:17.