RealTime IT News

Accused eBay Hacker Re-hires Lawyer

The computer whiz kid arrested for attacking eBay and other Silicon Valley Internet companies was back in court with his lawyer Thursday after reversed his plan to defend himself in court.

Jerome Heckenkamp, who has been in custody since January 18, told a federal court in San Jose, Calif. Wednesday that he does not have the resources to fight the charges alone and asked U.S. magistrate Patricia Trumble to allow him to have attorney Jennifer Granick represent him.

Granick specializes in defending computer crime cases and is currently clinical director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.

Heckenkamp, a 22-year-old former computer network engineer at Los Alamos National Labs, denies all charges that he hacked into Ebay, Exodus, ETrade, Qualcomm, Lycos, Juniper Networks, and Cygnus Support Solutions in 1999.

He conte nds that someone else remotely hijacked his dorm-room computer, which was running an unpatched version of Linux, and committed the crimes unbeknownst to him while he was a graduate student.

Heckenkamp was so convinced of his innocence that he drove himself from his home in Los Alamos to Albuquerque, N.M. where he turned himself in to US Marshalls.

Supporters raised a $50,000 bond and amassed a legal defense fund on Heckenkamp's behalf as well as a Web site, FreeSK8.org that proclaims his innocence and blames "a restless and unrelenting Federal Bureau of Investigation" for Heckenkamp's arrest. SK8 is the hacker nickname Heckenkamp used while a student at the University of Wisconsin.

Since the case is still in its pre-hearing stage, prosecutors haven't detailed what evidence they have linking him to the crimes, which they claim resulted in nearly a million dollars worth of damages to the ecommerce firms. But US attorneys say Heckenkamp has admitted to computer crimes while at the university and agreed to a one-year suspension from its graduate school. They also say he was fired from a student job after he admitted illegally trespassing on an Internet service provider in 1997.