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Anna Kournikova virus author stands trial

Lenient sentence in prospect

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The author of the infamous Anna Kournikova email worm has appeared in court in the Netherlands with prosecutors calling for a lenient sentence for his admitted crime.

Lawyers for 20-year old Jan de Wit have called for the dismissal of charges against him, arguing that the worm caused minimal damange. The FBI submitted evidence to the Dutch court, suggesting that $166,000 in damages was caused by the worm, based on reports of damage from 55 firms.

Prosecutors called for a sentence of 240-hours community service at the beginning of a trial yesterday on charges that de Wit spread data into a computer network, with the intention of causing damage. The charges carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison and a fine of 100,000 guilders ($41,300).

According to IDG, de Wit admitted created the worm using a virus creation toolkit but told the court when he posted the virus to a newsgroup he didn't "without thinking and without overseeing the consequences". He denies any intent to cause damage.

Sentencing of de Wit has been set for September 27.

The Anna Kournikova email worm was written using a Visual Basic Worm Generator, written by [K]Alamar. The worm was released onto the Internet in February, and spread rapidly, prompting many firms to shut down their email servers as a precaution.

Kournikova caused a great deal of inconvenience and irritation - several million computers were infected, according to Sophos.

But its effects were much milder than early reports suggested. The worm caused nothing like the damage caused by the otherwise similar Love Bug, or the Melissa virus, estimated to cause $80m-worth of damages at the US trial of author David Smith. Smith still hasn't been sentenced despite pleading guilty to writing the virus in December 1999. ®

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