A 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 ended up on the internet..
American Christopher Chaney (35) made his first court appearance yesterday in California, where he has been indicted on 26 counts, including unauthorised access to a computer and wiretapping.
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 Johansson, herself were posted on the internet. Chaney offered some material to celebrity blog sites, but there wasn't any evidence that he profited from his scheme, authorities said.
Chaney is accused of mining through publicly available data to figure out password and security questions for celebrity accounts. It is alleged he hijacked 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' requests to remand Chaney to custody but modified his bond to $110,000 (€80,000), and he will wear an electronic monitoring device upon his return to his home in Florida.
A trial has been scheduled for December 27.
A search warrant said Chaney's computer hard drive contained numerous private celebrity photos as well as a document that compiled their extensive personal data.
In arguing for a higher bond and time behind bars, Assistant US Attorney Lisa Feldman said that even after FBI agents seized the computer in February, he continued his hacking scheme against an actress for six months. She declined to reveal the celebrity's name.
Chaney said he managed to hack into Johansson's email account to send one of her acquaintances an email containing a nude photo of her in exchange for a photo, authorities said.