The FBI yesterday arrested a man as part of its investigation into the alleged hacking of Hollywood celebrities' phones and email accounts which saw naked pictures of actress Scarlett Johansson leaked online last month.
Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested as part of a year-long investigation that has been dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi". He was released on a $10,000 bond after a brief court appearance. He has been charged with 26 counts of identity theft, unauthorised access to a protected computer and wiretapping. He faces up to 121 years in jail if convicted.
Johansson, Mila Kunis and Christina Aguilera were all confirmed to have been victims and were praised by US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr for allowing their names to be made public. Others are said to include Jessica Alba and actress and singer Vanessa Hudgens, naked pictures of whom were also released online in March after being stolen from her Gmail account.
Up to 50 women are thought to have been affected.
The investigation began in late 2010 as reports began to surface of celebrities' mobile phones and computers being hacked into.
A hacking group called Hollywood Leaks, which said it had ties with Anonymous, claimed responsibility for the attack on Ms Johansson, but their assertions could not be verified. And it was reported yesterday that the hacker arrested was in fact working alone and made no financial gain from releasing the images. According to the celebrity gossip blog TMZ, the FBI is "convinced the guy is a lone wolf, who never got a cent for the pictures he stole... he just did it for the thrill."