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Romanian Hacker "Guccifer" Appears in U.S. Court

Marcel Lazar Lehel, the 44-year-old Romanian national accused of hacking into the online accounts of many public figures, has been extradited to the United States where he made his first court appearance last week.

Romania’s High Court of Cassation and Justice agreed to extradite Lehel, known online as Guccifer, to the United States for a period of 18 months. U.S. authorities said the man hacked into the email and social media accounts of two former presidents, a former cabinet member, a former presidential advisor, and a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between December 2012 and January 2014. The indictment does not name any of the victims and refers to them as “victim” 1 through 5.

The hacker has been accused of releasing private emails, personal photographs, and medical and financial information belonging to his victims.

Lehel has been charged in the United States with three counts of wire fraud, three counts of gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer, cyber stalking, aggravated identity theft, and obstruction of justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia said the man faces up to 20 years in prison, with a two-year mandatory minimum for the identity theft charges.

In an interview last year with a Romanian journalist, Lehel said that if he is extradited to the United States, he will “plead guilty, no problem.”

During the time he was active, Guccifer also hacked into the accounts of various actors, journalists and businessmen, but the charges filed by U.S. authorities appear to focus on the attacks targeting officials.

Lehel was arrested by Romanian authorities in January 2014 after hacking into the email accounts of Romanian politician Corina Cretu and George Maior, the head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). He was sentenced by a Romanian court to seven years in prison for these attacks.

The hacker had been known by Romanian law enforcement as “Little Fume.” He had previously received a three-year suspended sentence for hacking into the accounts of many Romanian celebrities.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.