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Hacker Barred From Computers

Computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, who admitted a multimillion-dollar crime wave in cyberspace, has been sentenced to an additional year in prison. He also must pay a token amount of restitution, but can't make a living from computers.

Mitnick, the only computer hacker to make the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list, was arrested in 1995 in North Carolina after a spree that made him a hero to fellow hackers world wide.

As part of an earlier plea agreement, U.S. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer sentenced Mitnick to three years and 10 months in prison. With credit for time served, he will be eligible for parole in one year.

That parole will last three years, Pfaelzer said, and until it's over Mitnick is to keep his hands off anything computer-related.

Pfaelzer told the 36-year-old Mitnick in strong terms Monday that he must pay $4,125 in restitution to various companies, though she doubted he will be able to earn more than minimum wage.

"Just so we have an understanding, Mr. Mitnick, this is a token restitution order and you will be required to pay it. Do you understand?" the judge asked.

"Yes, I understand it," answered Mitnick.

Mitnick's victims included such companies as Motorola, Novell, Nokia and Sun Microsystems, and the University of Southern California. He was accused of breaking into a North American Air Defense Command computer, although that allegation was never proven.

Mitnick admitted in March that he broke into the computers of several high-tech companies, stole software and installed programs that caused millions of dollars in damage. He pleaded guilty to five felony counts as part of the deal.

Prosecutors had asked that Mitnick be ordered to pay $1.5 million, claiming his notoriety and skills would eventually allow him to earn money through book, film or TV contracts.

Defense lawyer Donald Randolph proposed his client be committed to a halfway house or rehabilitation center because of Mitnick's "obsessive behavior." The judge refused.

During his incarceration and while on parole, Mitnick is prohibited from having access to anything that can be used for Internet access including computers, software, hardware, cellular telephones and televisions.

He is also prohibited from working as a consultant to any firms with access to computers, and may not obtain access codes, encryption data or any altered telephone equipment.

Young computer aficionados crowded the courtroom to show their support for Mitnick.

A 17-year-old, who would only identify himself by his computer call sign "Whippet," said he believed Mitnick was wrongfully locked up. He said he understood Mitnick's motivation as a hacker.

"It's kind of like an adventure," he said. "You're just exploring. It's nothing malicious. It's like playing a sport, pushing yourself as far as you can go."

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