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NY Times hacker surrenders, is released

$250k bond

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.--A federal judge ordered Adrian Lamo released to his parents Tuesday afternoon, but barred the hacker from using computers, and ordered him to obtain full-time employment pending trial.

Federal magistrate judge Gregory Hollows ordered Lamo released on a $250,000 bond, part of it secured by his parent's house, in accordance with a negotiated surrender deal reached between the federal public defender's office and New York prosecutors Monday.

The high bail was necessary, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Camil Skipper, because of the hacker's nomadic reputation. "He has led a transient lifestyle, he has been known as the 'homeless hacker,'" Skipper told the court.

Under the terms of his release, Lamo's future wanderings will be confined to the northeastern half of California, and southern New York state, unless he gets prior approval of the court to travel elsewhere.

He was ordered to fly to New York City at the government's expense and turn himself in to FBI agents Thursday morning.

There, he faces a two-count federal complaint charging him with illegally accessing the New York Times internal network last year. One count charges Lamo with computer intrusion; a second with unauthorized posession of "access devices." Federal deputy public defender Mary French said Monday the access devices refer to passwords for the Lexis-Nexis database service allegedly obtained from the Times network.

In custody since his surrender Tuesday morning, Lamo appeared in court in his street clothes, with his hands cuffed at his waist, and listened quietly as Hollows read him his rights. Lamo's mother, Mary Lamo, sat at the back of the courtroom.

Computer Ban

Following the recommendation of a federal pretrial services officer who interviewed the hacker in custody, Hollows ordered Lamo to obtain full-time employment or enroll in college pending trial. The ban on computer use was the judge's idea.

"This whole business of computer hacking, viruses and so forth is getting very wearisome," said Hollows, explaining his thinking from the bench.

In recent weeks the Blaster computer worm and the latest variant of the SoBig virus have wreaked havoc on Windows machines throughout the Internet. But virus-writing has little to do with Adrian Lamo.

The hacker has become famous for publicly exposing gaping security holes at large corporations, then volunteering to help the companies fix the vulnerabilities he exploited -- sometimes visiting their offices or signing non-disclosure agreements in the process. Until now, his cooperation and transparency have kept him from being prosecuted.

In an interview the eve of his surrender, Lamo said he had no regrets.

"My views may change as this goes on, but I still think this has somehow all been worthwhile," said the hacker in a telephone interview. "There's no action that I've ever taken that I'm not willing to accept the consequences for."

Lamo appeared at the federal courthouse here at around 9:30 a.m. Pacific time, trailing camera crews from cable network TechTV, and TriggerStreet, Kevin Spacey's production company, which is filming a documentary on hackers. The TriggerStreet crew has been with Lamo since late Thursday, when the hacker learned that the FBI was searching for him.

The 22-year-old was without the backpack that he usually carries, containing a change of clothes and the laptop computer with which he's hacked some of America's largest corporations. "What backpack?," he quipped. "I lost it. It fell off a bridge."

Lamo's supporters have erected a website at FreeLamo.com to support Lamo "and his fight for freedom."

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York did not return phone calls on the case.

Lamo's bail conditions could be changed when he appears in New York.

Copyright © 2003,

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SecurityFocus: Who is Adrian Lamo?

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