We now know how much time the US courts think you should spend in jail if you hack 100 Americans, including a slew of celebrities: 52 months.
The infamous Romanian known as Guccifer (whose real name is Marcel Lehel Lazar) was sentenced on Thursday to 52 months in prison for breaking into what he says are 100 Americans’ email accounts.
By his own admission, he compromised accounts including that of ex-US President Bush (from which he stole the famous self-portrait in the bathtub, family photos and personal email), former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Facebook account, emails that portrayed Powell as having an affair with Romanian politician Corina Cretu (which Powell denied), and even the script for the Downton Abbey finale.
His other targets included magazine editor Tina Brown, author Candace Bushnell and actor Jeffrey Tambor.
According to what Guccifer has said in interviews, the list also includes the emails of former secretary of state and current presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
He’s never been charged for the Clinton breach.
Clinton’s use of a personal account – clintonemail.com – had been discovered in 2013, when Guccifer breached the email account of one of Clinton’s closest confidants and advisors, Sidney Blumenthal, while she was secretary of state.
In March 2013, Lazar released to the media what he claimed were multiple exchanges between Blumenthal and Clinton.
Over the course of a half-hour jailhouse interview and phone calls, Guccifer provided what Fox News called “extensive” details of how he breached the private, unsecured server – located in Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York – that held emails she’d had diverted from a secure government server while secretary of state.
At the time, Lazar told Fox that what he found when he breached Clinton’s server, “like, twice.” was pretty boring.
I was not paying attention. For me, it was not like the Hillary Clinton server, it was like an email server she and others were using with political voting stuff.
Law enforcement officials have said that Lazar’s claims of breaching Clinton’s email were “meritless.”
The State Department wound up chiding Clinton for using private email.
The FBI, for its part, concluded its investigation into the matter by calling Clinton and her colleagues “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” but recommended that no charges be brought against her.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch agreed.
Guccifer caused “incalculable” harm through his crimes, according to federal prosecutors.
They had been seeking a maximum penalty of 54 months, according to the Washington Post, and got nearly that much.
In 2014, Guccifer was indicted by a US federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, cyberstalking and obstruction of justice.
As Reuters reported in March, Lazar was sentenced in 2014 by a Romanian court to four years in jail for illegally accessing email accounts of public figures “with the aim of getting … confidential data” and is serving another three-year term for other offenses.
According to US District Judge James C. Cacheris, the near-maximum 52-month sentence was needed to deter future hacking.
The Washington Times reports that Cacheris cited news reports about escalating cyberattacks against Americans in recent years, including this week’s FBI warnings of intrusions into state election systems.
We’ve already seen an homage paid to Guccifer: Somebody going by the name “Guccifer 2.0” claimed credit for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee breach in June.
He or she said that like Guccifer 1.0, they’re Romanian.
This epidemic must stop.
While Assistant US Attorney Maya D. Song wrote this:
[A maximum punishment] would also help address any false perception that unauthorized access of a computer is ever justified or rationalized as the cost of living in a wired society — or even worse, a crime to be celebrated.
Cacheris said that Romania’s Justice Ministry has asked that Lazar be immediately released to his home country to serve his Romanian court-issued sentence there.
The Justice Ministry also indicated that he’d be conditionally released in 2018 and returned to the US to serve out this country’s prison term.