Romanian authorities arrest man suspected of being celebrity hacker Guccifer
- 24 January, 2014 18:45
A Romanian man was arrested this week under suspicion that he is the hacker known online as Guccifer who hacked into the online accounts of various public figures and politicians, including former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and members of the Bush family.
Prosecutors from the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, commonly referred to as DIICOT, executed a search warrant Wednesday at the house of a man from Arad county suspected of accessing the email accounts of Romanian public figures without authorization.
The suspect transferred confidential information from the compromised email accounts onto his own computer and then disclosed them publicly with the intention of harming the privacy and public image of the victims, DIICOT said.
The agency did not name the suspect in its press release Wednesday, referring to him only by his initials, L.M.L. However, a DIICOT representative confirmed Friday that his name is Marcel Lazar Lehel and he is believed to have used the online alias Guccifer, as local media had reported during the past two days.
Guccifer made headlines in February 2013 when he leaked pictures and sensitive correspondence from the email accounts of several members of the family of former U.S. President George W. Bush. He then continued his hacking spree by compromising the email and online accounts of Colin Powell, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, journalist Carl Bernstein, author Candace Bushnell, venture capitalist John Doerr, various Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration officials, former FBI agents and defense contractors.
On Jan. 6, The Smoking Gun reported, based on documents allegedly supplied by the hacker, that his latest targets included comedian Steve Martin, editor Tina Brown, ex-Nixon aide John Dean, author Kitty Kelley, actress Mariel Hemingway, former U.S. Air Force Secretary George Roche, MetLife CEO Steven Kandarian, Pulitzer Prize winner Diane McWhorter, the head of Romania's domestic intelligence service George-Cristian Maior and three members of the U.K.'s House of Lords.
According to The Smoking Gun, the hacker obtained from his victims email correspondence, contact lists, phone records, personal photos, files stored on online storage websites and confidential financial documents, including credit card, banking, and investment statements,
While DIICOT only mentioned the hacking of email accounts of public figures from Romania in its press release, it noted that the agency cooperated with U.S. authorities in the investigation.
The agency initially announced only the house search, but a DIICOT representative confirmed Friday that Lehel was arrested after an arrest warrant was issued in his name Thursday.
Lehel has been convicted before for similar offenses. In 2012 he received a three-year suspended prison sentence for hacking into the email and Facebook accounts of several Romanian TV celebrities and other individuals. At the time he used the online alias Micul Fum -- Romanian for Little Smoke.