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Hacker Who Exposed Clinton Email Given Prison Sentence

Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, also known as "Guccifer," has been sentenced to four years in U.S. federal prison.

Aside from having hacked into the email accounts of roughly 100 victims, Lazar also inadvertently helped expose Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while she served as secretary of state.

On Sep. 1, Lazar was sentenced to 52 months by a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia. The 44-year-old hacker had pleaded guilty to unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft, Reuters reports.

Under the pseudonym of Guccifer, Lazar had hacked into the private email accounts of several prominent U.S. officials from 2012 through 2014, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and a family member of former President George W. Bush.

Lazar would then leak documents from these accounts, all of them private and some of them embarrassing. Among the officials that he had hacked was Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal, who had sent memos to the former secretary of state’s private email address.

These leaked memos would help investigators uncover Clinton’s use of a private email server, which has resulted in an FBI investigation and persistent questions over whether the Democratic nominee had compromised national security.

Lazar was arrested in Bucharest in January 2014 and then extradited to the U.S. in April 2016.

Romanian prosecutor Viorel Badea noted that Lazar had not even shown a great aptitude for computers, simply hacking into prominent officials’ email accounts by guessing their security questions instead of using sophisticated hacking techniques, according to The New York Times.

“He was not really a hacker but just a smart guy who was very patient and persistent,” Badea said. “He is just a poor Romanian guy who wanted to be famous.”

On Aug. 29, Lazar’s attorneys wrote in a court filing that their client was not a devious mastermind but a well-intentioned family man, The Washington Times reports.

“Like several other recent hacking cases, Mr. Lazar was not motivated by financial gain but principally by a desire to bring to light actions of public officials and those in power in order to expose what he saw as hypocrisy ... and to further public discourse, although he did so without the specialized knowledge or technical skills of an expert hacker,” Lazar’s attorneys wrote.

Lazar has claimed he successfully breached Clinton’s private email server. Both the Clinton campaign and the FBI have dismissed his assertion, saying there is no evidence of this.

Currently another hacker, known as “Guccifer 2.0,” has made headlines by hacking into the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic Party organizations.

While Guccifer 2.0 claims to be another Romanian hacker, U.S. intelligence officials suspect the hacks were committed by the Russian intelligence community.

Sources: The New York TimesReuters (2), The Washington Times / Photo credit: Christoph Schultz/Flickr

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