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1 of 3. Actress Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers on the catwalk before the Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2012 women's collection during Milan Fashion Week September 25, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo
By Susan Zeidler
LOS ANGELES |
Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:04pm EDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Federal officials on Wednesday arrested a Florida man and charged him with 26 counts of cyber-related crimes against Hollywood celebrities following an 11-month federal probe dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi."
Victims included actresses Scarlett Johansson, "Black Swan" star Mila Kunis and pop singer Christina Aguilera, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
Christopher Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested Wednesday morning by FBI agents and accused of targeting individuals in the entertainment industry by hacking into personal e-mail accounts.
Chaney, who was arraigned in Florida on Wednesday, faces as many as 121 years in jail if convicted on all counts. Officials said the investigation remains open and others could be implicated.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr. told reporters that Chaney gained unauthorized access to e-mail accounts of the stars to intercept information that in some cases included "movie scripts" and "nude photos."
In September, "Iron Man 2" star Johansson joined a list of Hollywood celebrities including "High School Musical" actress Vanessa Hudgens and film star Jessica Alba, who have had private photos leaked online at the hands of hackers.
In the Johansson photos, the 26 year-old actress was shown in a towel with an exposed backside, while another showed her topless. The pictures were posted on several celebrity gossip websites before eventually being taken down.
The FBI said their investigation identified more than 50 victims, but the indictment against Chaney listed specific incidents of hacking into e-mail accounts of only 11.
Wednesday's arrest followed a scandal involving media giant News Corp after revelations earlier this year that employees of one of the company's London newspapers had hacked into the cellphones of celebrities and members of the public.
Federal officials said on Wednesday that there was no link between Chaney's arrest and the News Corp scandal.
(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Jill Serjeant)
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