LONDON: A hacker who helped the Islamic State by providing the names of more than 1,000 American government and military workers as potential targets was sentenced to 20 years in prison yesterday.
The sentence was much higher than the six-year term sought by defense lawyers, who argued their client, Ardit Ferizi, meant no real harm and was not a true ISIS supporter, reports the Guardian.
“He was a nonsensical, misguided teenager who did not know what he was doing. He has never embraced ISIL’s ideology,” said public defender Elizabeth Mullin.
Ferizi, a 20-year-old native of Kosovo who was arrested last year in Malaysia, is the first person convicted in the US of both computer hacking and terrorism charges. He admitted hacking a private company and pulling out the names, email passwords and phone numbers of about 1,300 people with .gov and .mil addresses. ISIS published the names with a threat to attack.
At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Ferizi struggled to explain why he did it, when asked directly by US district judge Leonie Brinkema for an explanation. He said that it all happened very quickly.
Assistant US attorney Brandon Van Grack said: “The defendant’s conduct has indefinitely put the lives of 1,300 military members and government workers at risk.”
He said that before turning over the names to the “Islamic State hacking division” last year, he operated a website devoted to propagating ISIS propaganda.