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Benecken characterized the entire hacking case as “ultramodern” and said that, in a way, it exemplified the “downside” of today’s digital age “that can easily been taken advantage of by savvy youths with those skills and a lot of time.”

“Deniz told me that he felt like being in a movie _ I think sometimes young people can’t really differentiate between imagination and reality,” Benecken said.

Before he was reached by the AP, Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper quoted Deniz A. as saying he didn’t mean to do any harm.

“I’m a fan and I just wanted to have cool music,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “I’m no blackmailer.”

Haferkamp said the police were informed of the hacking after a fan of Kelly Clarkson alerted her management that unreleased songs of the singer were being sold online.

A Duisburg police spokesman, speaking on departmental condition of anonymity, said that the two had been under investigation for “several months” and that authorities had a 1,000-page file on them.

Haferkamp said the investigation should be concluded by January and can lead to criminal charges. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to five years in prison or face stiff fines for damages.

Clarkson and Ke$ha are represented by RCA, and Timberlake is represented by Jive, both subsidiaries of Sony. Sony Germany had no immediate comment.

Jive spokeswoman Wendy Washington said in an e-mailed response that “in light of the fact that this is an ongoing legal investigation, the label has no comment.”

Lady Gaga is represented by Universal Music. Her manager in Germany did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Kirsten Grieshaber contributed to this story.