A supporter of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government has pleaded guilty to to charges of conspiring to receive extortion proceeds and conspiring to illegally access computers in his limited role as a member of the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) hacking group.
The U.S. Department of Justice in a statement said that 37-year-old Peter Romar was a member of the Syrian Electronic Army hacking group and had joined an operation to infiltrate computers of Assad’s “perceived detractors” in the media, U.S. government and other governments.
Justice Department officials said the hackers used a tactic known as “spear-phishing,” to target computers.
“If a victim could not make extortion payments to the conspiracy’s Syrian bank accounts due to sanctions targeting Syria, Romar acted as an intermediary in Germany to evade those sanctions,” the Justice Department said.
CNN, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, Reuters, Microsoft Corp, Harvard University and Human Rights Watch were among the hacker group’s targets.