Syrian living in Germany pleads guilty in U.S. hacking case

By Allen Cone

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A Syrian man affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army pleaded guilty to hacking charges in U.S. federal court.

Peter Romar, 37, was extradited from Germany to the United States in May.


Since 2011, SEA engaged in a criminal conspiracy to conduct computer intrusions against perceived detractors of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including media entities, the U.S. government and foreign governments, according to U.S. Officials. Hacked were Harvard University, The Washington Post, the White House, USA Today, NASA and Microsoft, according to The Washington Post.

Romar's alleged co-conspirators -- Ahmad Umar Agha and Firas Dardar, known online as "The Shadow" -- are still at large, believed to be in Syria. Both are on the FBI's list of "Most Wanted" cybercriminals.

Starting in approximately 2013, Romar and Dardar hacked online businesses in the United States and elsewhere for personal profit, according to prosecutors.

"Today's guilty plea is by the latest international offender who believed that he could operate from abroad, behind the perceived veil of anonymity offered by the Internet, and use computers to threaten the security of our citizens and their property," said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin of the Eastern District of Virginia. "It shows that the Department of Justice and the FBI stand behind their pledge to hold accountable foreign actors who assist in the hacking of U.S. victims."


Romar pleaded guilty to felony charges of conspiring to receive extortion proceeds and conspiring to unlawfully access computers and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He will be sentenced on Oct. 21.

Defense attorney Geremy Kamens asked to have him sentenced immediately so that he could return to Germany, where his wife is battling brain cancer. Judge Claude M. Hilton refused that request.

"Cybercriminals cannot hide from justice," said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "No matter where they are in the world, the United States will vigorously pursue those who commit crimes against U.S. citizens and hold them accountable for their actions."

Court documents show that Romar refused Dardar's offer of payment.

"He gained no money for himself," Kamens said in court Wednesday. "He used his own name; he did not hide anything."

Romar has agreed to pay restitution to those affected.

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