Dutch court temporarily frees 17-year-old KPN hacking suspect

The teenager is freed on the condition that he does not use the Internet at all

A Dutch 17-year-old suspected of compromising customer account data on hundreds of servers belonging to telecommunications operator KPN is set to be freed temporarily on Thursday, allowed to wait at home for his criminal proceedings to begin, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service said on Wednesday.

The teenager's attorney asked that the teenager be freed temporarily, a request granted by the Rotterdam court and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, spokesman Wim de Bruin of the Prosecution Service said. "He can wait in freedom for his criminal case to start," De Bruin said. The hearings will take place this summer, he added.

The teenager was freed on the condition that he would not use the Internet at all, De Bruin said. If he had not have agreed to this, he would have had to remain in custody until the proceedings started, he added.

The youth was arrested on March 27 by the Dutch High Tech Crime Team in the Dutch town of Barendrecht. He is suspected of breaching the security of hundreds of KPN servers last January, damaging KPN's infrastructure and compromising user data, the Prosecution Service said at the time. The biggest telecom operator in the Netherlands was forced to overhaul its systems to delete malicious software found on its servers. In the wake of the hack, KPN was also forced to temporarily suspend access to, and later reset the passwords of more than 2 million email accounts.

According to the Prosecution Service the teenager confessed to the KPN hack shortly after his arrest.

The 17-year-old is also suspected of hacking computers of the Trondheim University in Norway, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and is thought to be responsible for security breaches at the Tohoku University in Japan, according to the Prosecution Service. The teenager did not confess to these hacks in March and De Bruin on Wednesday did not comment on what the suspected teenager said about these hacks.

De Bruin emphasized that the Public Prosecution takes the age of the youth heavily into account. "Therefore the proceedings will all be behind closed doors," de Bruin said.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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