“Weev” the wily hacker walks.
Weev, whose real name is Andrew Auernheimer, was convicted on multiple federal counts related to a hacking spree in which he stole 114,000 email addresses from AT&T in 2012. Although he lived in Bill Clinton’s home state of Arkansas, he was tried in federal court in Newark, N.J.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Friday that Auernheimer’s crimes, violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and identity theft, had no connection to the Garden State and thus tossed the conviction, according to Bloomberg.
It’s a curious turn of events, given that he could have passed the data to Chinese intelligence — but he gave it to Gawker.
Auernheimer was sentenced to 41 months in prison in 2012. Since that time, he’s been chilling his heels at the Allenwood Federal “Club Fed” Correctional Complex in White Deer, Penn. Auernheimer’s attorney,Tor Ekeland, said his client was being held in solitary confinement almost 24 hours a day.
After the federal ruling yesterday morning, the lawyer is trying to get Auernheimer released, saying he has been treated badly in prison, according to press accounts.
Here’s what Auernheimer did, according to the federal complaint: He breached AT&T’s servers and stole the email addresses of more than 100,000 customers who were accessing the Internet through their iPads.
Auernheimer apparently passed the email addresses and other information he stole to Gawker.
Federal investigators managed to get Auenheimer’s friend and accomplice Daniel Spitler to testify against him in exchange for a reduced sentence. Spitler told the federal judge during the trial how the two men wrote computer code to generate iPad users’ ID numbers.
Auenheimer argued they were doing it for fun and didn’t consider it theft.
Spitler pleaded guilty and testified against Auernheimer. He described how he carried out his attack by writing computer code to generate iPad identification numbers. Auernheimer told jurors that the information was public and that he never considered what he did as theft.
At the time of the hacking spree, Auernheimer was in Arkansas and Spitler in San Francisco. The AT&T servers they broke into were in Dallas and Atlanta respectively.
The U.S. Attorney’s office that oversaw the prosecution said they were considering their options now that the conviction has been overturned.
Auernheimer was represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation during his appeal to the original charges.