Netflix's 10-part documentary series Making a Murderer has brought significant public scrutiny to the story of Steven Avery, who was imprisoned for sexual assault, exonerated, and then convicted of murder. Now, two suspected members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have said that they have evidence which proves that Avery is innocent, and that they will leak the documents to the public. But if Anonymous is helping Steven Avery, then why are they doing so? As in the past, they're on a mission to deliver justice where authorities may have failed.
In a series of tweets from the account @OPAVERYDASSEY, which was purportedly created by members of Anonymous, the group announced that they will release documents "concerning #ManitowocCounty corruption emails and collusion." The documents allegedly reveal phone records between Lt. James Lenk and Sgt. Andrew Colborn, two Manitowoc County police officers whom the group allege conspired against Avery and his cousin Brendan Dassey, who was convicted of helping Avery kill Theresa Halbach in 2005.
It is this potential corruption in the Manitowoc County sheriff's department that is the driving force behind Anonymous's latest mission. Anonymous does not appear to have any investment in Avery's case other than the sheer objective to deliver justice where it has not been served, which falls in line with the cyber group's past endeavors.
Prior to Operation Avery Dassey, Anonymous has aligned themselves with multiple causes, often siding against law enforcement and the establishment. After unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson, Anonymous launched Operation Ferguson, condemning the St. Louis Police for the incident and vowing retribution if any protesters were harmed. Days after Brown's death, the group started doxxing St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, posting his address and telephone number along with a photo of his house on Twitter.
Anonymous has also targeted the Albuquerque Police Department, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, and the Cleveland Police Department in their ongoing fight against police brutality.
Avery spent 18 years in prison after being convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder in 1985, but DNA evidence exonerated him in 2003. Avery then filed a lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment against the Manitowoc County sheriff's department; both Lenk and Colborn were named in the suit. Two years later, the department charged Avery and Dassey with the murder of Halbach. Making a Murderer explores the theory that Avery and his cousin were framed by the Manitowoc County sheriff's office — a theory which Anonymous alleges it can support with damning phone evidence.
Though the hacker group warned that they would release their documents Tuesday, as of press time, Anonymous has not posted any evidence related to Avery's case.