Kevin Mitnick fights for ham radio license

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Kevin Mitnick, the computer hacker imprisoned by the United States for five years and subject of our documentary “Freedom Downtime,” faces yet another challenge on Tuesday when he appears at a Federal Communications Commission hearing in Washington DC on Tuesday.

The hearing is to determine whether Mitnick will lose his ham radio license, which he’s had for 25 years. The FCC has refused to allow his license to be renewed, despite the fact that he isn’t accused of misusing it or breaking any FCC rules. Instead it’s his conviction for what eventually turned out to be relatively minor computer-related crimes that has turned this federal agency against him.

This is a new and apparently isolated instance of someone’s ham license being affected by an unrelated conviction. FBI spy Robert Hanssen, despite once facing the death penalty for his crimes, continues to possess a ham license as do convicted murderers and rapists. It appears to be yet another example of the federal government doing everything it can to make life more difficult on Mitnick, who was released from prison in 2000 with his three years of supervised release due to expire in January 2003. Until that happens, Mitnick is forbidden from using the Internet.

Since Mitnick applied for a renewal of his license before it expired, he is still allowed to use his ham radio equipment. However, this could quickly change if the judge rules against him on Tuesday in what has been described as a “mini-trial” where Mitnick must prove that he possesses the requisite character to have a ham license. The judge is rumored to have never once gone against an FCC recommendation.

The hearing is scheduled for 9 am Tuesday at the Portals Building in Washington DC, located at 445 12th Street SW. The hearing, which is open to the public, will be in the First Floor Hearing Room.