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U.S. indicts Romanian for crimes of hacker 'Guccifer'

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Romanian citizen has been indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury on charges that he, as the hacker "Guccifer," posted data stolen from email and social media accounts of U.S. celebrities and politicians, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.

Marcel Lazar Lehel, a former taxi driver, is already in a Romanian jail after being sentenced there last week to serve up to seven years in prison for hacking crimes against Romanian citizens.

No mention of his alleged attacks on U.S. citizens were made in the Romanian court last week, and an official at the Romanian general prosecutor's office, who has knowledge of the case but who did not want to be named, told Reuters last week that the office had no knowledge of any U.S. requests for Lehel's extradition. [ID:nL6N0ON38K]

The Department of Justice said on Thursday that a grand jury had indicted him on charges of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, cyberstalking and obstruction of justice.

Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr declined comment when asked whether the United States would seek to extradite Lazar to the United States for trial.

The hacker Guccifer shot to fame in 2013 after he claimed responsibility for hacking into George W. Bush family emails and posted artwork by the former president, including self-portraits in the bathtub. [ID:nL1N0B86TR]

The same year, the hacker distributed emotional emails sent to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell from European Parliament member Corina Cretu, a Romanian, prompting Powell to deny that they had an affair.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston; Additional reporting by Radu Marinas in Bucharest; Editing by Richard Valdmanis, Steve Orlofsky and James Dalgleish)

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