Matthew DeHart contends that he was held in federal prison on child pornography charges as a ruse to punish him for his work with hacker group Anonymous, and his attempts to leak CIA documents to Wikileaks.
A new documentary set to be released later this month tells the now-37-year-old Indiana man’s story, including his initial arrest at the U.S.-Canada border crossing in Calais, the time he spent at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor and his dramatic collapse in a Bangor courtroom.
“Enemies of the State,” directed by Sonia Kennebeck and executive-produced by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris, will hit theaters and streaming platforms on July 30. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September.
The documentary avoids siding with either DeHart or the FBI. Rather, it seeks to show how the truth can be hard to ascertain. Compelling evidence for both cases is presented — that either DeHart was indeed persecuted for his role in attempting to leak documents to Wikileaks, or that he and his parents were trying to cover up his very real crimes by claiming he was a political prisoner.
“Every turn we took seemed to reveal a new mystery and the clues we received were ambiguous and tainted by agendas,” Kennebeck said. “Was the government lying? Or were the DeHarts? Was there a government conspiracy or one concocted by the family to cover up Matt’s crimes? We had theories, suspicions and different opinions within our team, but too little concrete evidence to sway all of us either way.”
DeHart, whose involvement with Anonymous dated back at least to 2008, was first investigated for child pornography allegations in January 2010. An FBI search of his Indiana home turned up no evidence. After attempting to seek asylum in both Russia and Venezuela, DeHart then decided to attend school in Canada, moving first to Montreal and then to Prince Edward Island. In order to obtain a student visa, he came back to the U.S., and was detained at the Calais border crossing in early August 2010.
According to the FBI, in 2008, DeHart coerced two teenage boys in Tennessee into sending him nude photos and videos of themselves. He also allegedly impersonated a teenage girl to get other teenage boys to send him photos and videos. On several occasions, DeHart also allegedly met the boys in person near their home outside Nashville.
DeHart claims in the documentary that he was interrogated and drugged by FBI agents in Calais, and then taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he was diagnosed as having undergone a psychotic break. DeHart was held at Penobscot County Jail for at least 10 days, where he claims he was kept naked in a bare cell, and was not allowed to sleep or to use a toilet. He claims he was interrogated for five to six hours every day by the FBI.
Capt. Richard Clukey, administrator of the Penobscot County Jail, did not respond to requests for comment. The jail referred the filmmakers to the FBI, which declined to answer questions.
Then-U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk noted DeHart’s errant behavior during several Bangor court appearances in 2010, including at a bail hearing on Aug. 12 where DeHart collapsed after being told he was being held without bail. He was later transferred back to Tennessee, where he spent 21 months in jail until another judge allowed DeHart to be released on bail.
DeHart denied all the child pornography charges, and claims that the real reason he was taken into custody was that he had information on a flash drive that proved, among other things, that the anthrax attacks in 2001 that took place shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were perpetrated by the CIA, and not by Al Qaeda or other accused actors. DeHart and his parents, Paul and Leann DeHart, hold that the FBI fabricated the child pornography charges to discredit him and allow him to be locked up, and to prevent the documents from being sent to Wikileaks.
In April 2013 DeHart, accompanied by his parents, left their Indiana home where DeHart had to stay under his strict bail conditions, and attempted to seek asylum in Canada. He was held under house arrest in Canada until March 2015, when his request for asylum was eventually denied and he was deported back to the U.S. He then struck a plea deal and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison, including the time he’d already spent under house arrest in Canada. He was released in October 2019.