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Cybersecurity

American 'Celebgate' hacker sentenced to 18 months in prison

A US man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for hacking the email accounts of Hollywood stars. "Celebgate" led to the leak of hundreds of nude photos of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna and many others.

A US District Court in Pennsylvania has sentenced 36-year-old Ryan Collins to 18 months in prison for a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Collins was found guilty of "illegal access to over 100 Apple and Google email accounts, including those belonging to members of the entertainment industry in Los Angeles."

The Pennsylvania man acknowledged his involvement in hacking activity "for sexual gratification," according to pre-sentencing memos filed by his attorney and prosecutors.

Collins' case is linked to an ongoing investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation into the release of hundreds of nude photos of celebrities.

Those targeted included American actress Jennifer Lawrence, Barbadian singer Rihanna and American model Kate Upton.

No evidence Collins distributed photos

The sentencing comes after Collins entered into a plea deal with federal prosecutors, under which he pleaded guilty to one count of gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer in a bid to gain access to dozens of accounts.

However, the FBI said there is no evidence that Collins distributed or uploaded the stolen material online, an action the federal law enforcement authority is still investigating.

"Hackers violate federal law whenever they access private information stored online and in digital devices," said US attorney Eileen Decker. She added that her office will continue to hold hackers responsible, "even when they do not sell or distribute the stolen data."

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ls/cmk (AP, AFP)

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