Marcel Lehel Lazar, a computer hacker known as “Guccifer” who is credited with revealing the existence of Hillary Clinton’s controversial private email server, has been released from a prison in his native Romania and is expected to be extradited to the United States for the second time since 2016.
Lazar was freed on parole this week in the midst of serving a seven-year sentence related to hacking a slew of Romanian celebrities and politicians, putting him on path to be sent to the U.S. to serve the remainder of a prison stint connected to a cybercrime spree that claimed several high-ranking U.S. victims and exposed Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Romanian authorities previously extradited Lazar to the U.S. in April 2016 after the Justice Department issued a nine-count indictment charging him in connection with compromising email accounts belonging to victims including Mrs. Clinton’s former adviser, Sidney Blumenthal. He pleaded guilty to a pair of related charges the following month, and in Sept. 2016 he was sentenced to 52-months imprisonment.
Lazar was in the middle of serving the seven-year sentence in Romania when the country’s government agreed to extradite him in 2016, however, and he was returned home within weeks of the U.S. case concluding and was subsequently incarcerated at a facility in Deva, Transylvania, prior to being granted a conditional release Tuesday by a court in nearby Hunedoara, Romanian media reported.
Romanian’s Justice Ministry previously said it would return Lazar to the U.S. following his release, and challenges mounted by the hacker aimed at thwarting the imminent second extradition were rejected as recently as last month by an appeals court in Alba Iulia.
Lazar hacked Mr. Blumenthal in 2013 and leaked correspondence stolen from his personal email account, including messages sent to Mrs. Clinton that revealed her use of a non-governmental email account while in office. The FBI later launched an inquiry into whether Mrs. Clinton mishandled classified information as a result of using her private email server as secretary of state, providing ample fodder for her critics, including President Trump, throughout the duration of her failed White House campaign in 2016.
Prosecutors said Lazar hacked over 100 victims in the U.S. and abroad, and other high-profile victims of his cybercrime spree included former Secretary of State Colin Powell and a sister of former President George W. Bush, among others, according to previous reporting.
Lazar previously boasted that he had also breached Mrs. Clinton’s private server, but the FBI said he later admitted to having invented that claim.
Representatives for the Romanian Ministry of Justice and the Alba Iulia Appeals Court did not respond to request for comment on Lehel’s extradition data, according to ZDNet, a tech site that first reported the developments in English.
“Guccifer 2.0,” a similarly named internet persona that took credit for hacking Democratic targets during the 2016 race, was operated by Russian military officials, U.S. officials and security professionals previously concluded.