Belfast Telegraph

Monday 4 May 2015

US man denies celebrity hacking

Christopher Chaney is accused of hacking into the email accounts of celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson
Christopher Chaney is accused of hacking into the email accounts of celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson

A US man has pleaded not guilty to hacking into the email accounts of celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johansson, whose nude photos eventually landed on the internet.

Christopher Chaney, 35, made his first court appearance in California, where he has been indicted on 26 counts, including unauthorised access to a computer and wire-tapping. If convicted, he faces up to 121 years in prison.

Chaney was arrested as part of a year-long investigation of celebrity hacking that authorities called Operation Hackerazzi.

There were more than 50 victims. Some nude photos taken by Scarlett herself were posted on the internet. Chaney allegedly offered some material to celebrity blog sites, but there was not any evidence that he profited from his scheme, authorities said.

Chaney is accused of mining through publicly available data to work out password and security questions for celebrity accounts. He is also accused of hijacking a forwarding feature so that a copy of every email a celebrity received was sent to an account he controlled, according to court documents.

US magistrate judge Patrick Walsh denied prosecutors' request to remand Chaney to custody but modified his bond to 110,000 US dollars (£68,000) and he will wear an electronic monitoring device upon his return to his home in Florida. A trial has been scheduled for December 27.

Chaney has apologised for his actions. "I think he has a crystal clear view of what is at stake," his lawyer Christopher Chestnut said during the hearing.

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