A Romanian national accused of hacking into the online accounts of several public figures, has pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him.
Marcel Lazar Lehel, also known as Guccifer and Little Smoke, admitted to committing the offenses, but denied representing a threat to national security, as prosecutors suggested during the trial.
Lehel is said to have breached the email and social media accounts of numerous politicians, officials and celebrities, including members of the Bush family, comedian Steve Martin, former Air Force Secretary George Roche, members of the Council on Foreign Relations, members of the UK’s House of Lords, former US Secretary of State Colin Powel, author Candace Bushnell, and various officials from the last three US presidential administrations.
He gained access to personal correspondence, documents, photographs and even financial information, some of which he leaked online. Lehel was arrested in Romania in January 2014 at his home, and his trial started on March 18.
The list of Lehel’s victims also includes two public figures from Romania, namely the politician Corina Cretu, accused by the hacker of having an affair with Colin Powell, and George Maior, the head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). Both Cretu and Maior have initiated civil complaints against Lehel, local media reported.
At his court appearance last week, the hacker highlighted that he had only breached three of Cretu and Maior’s personal emails, not work-related accounts. His actions are not as serious as the prosecution leads to believe, the man told the court.
However, Maior’s attorney has requested a minimum sentence of three years. Cretu’s representatives want the man to be banned from accessing a computer for five years, pointing to the fact that he has violated the privacy of national and international public figures by relying on his IT skills, Mediafax informs.
Lehel says he regrets his actions, but this isn’t the first time he is arrested and prosecuted for cybercrimes. He received a three-year suspended prison sentence in 2012 for hacking into the email and social media accounts of Romanian celebrities and officials.