Hacker who accessed Bush family e-mails jailed for four years in Romania

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 1:24am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 1:24am

A Romanian court sentenced hacker Guccifer, who broke into the e-mails of former US president George W. Bush's family, entertainment figures and the head of the Romanian secret service, to four years in jail yesterday.

Taxi driver Marcel Lazar Lehel, also know by the alias Small Fume, was arrested in January in Bucharest and could spend a total of seven years behind bars as he also carries a previous three-year suspended sentence.

Guccifer made headlines last year after he hacked into the Bush family e-mails and posted artwork by the former president, including self-portraits in the bathtub.

The hacker also distributed emotional e-mails sent to former US secretary of state Colin Powell from European Parliament member Corina Cretu, a Romanian, prompting Powell to deny that they had had an affair.

Guccifer also broke into a private Yahoo e-mail account of Romania's secret service chief George Maior, which his agency said had been used before for academic correspondence.

"The aggrieved parties Corina Cretu and George Cristian Maior did not turn into civil claimants ... The defendant is obliged to pay 11,000 lei (HK$26,000) in legal fees to the state," the Bucharest court said. It did not publish any details on his actions and said the sentence could be appealed.

An official at the Romanian general prosecutor's office, who has knowledge of the case, said the office had no knowledge of any extradition request for Lehel from the United States.

No mention of the hacker's activities in the US was made in court, the official added.

Guccifer claimed a wide range of victims and provided documents to support those claims to a US website, The Smoking Gun.

He used methods including guessing the answers to security questions to access customer accounts at Facebook, Comcast, AOL and other companies.

The hacker has claimed his other victims include Tina Brown, the former editor of The New Yorker magazine; Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes; journalist Carl Bernstein; and venture capitalist John Doerr.