Porn, rap interrupt Zoom hearing of Twitter hacking suspect
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The online bond hearing for a Florida teen accused of hacking prominent Twitter accounts was interrupted Wednesday by rap music and pornographic videos from users who apparently disguised their names.
The interruptions — including one by a user who shared a screen and took over the hearing with a porn video — forced Hillsborough County Judge Christopher C. Nash to temporarily halt the session for Graham Ivan Clark, 17.
Nash reopened the hearing, but the users continued their disruptions. He ultimately declined to lower Clark’s bail, which was set at $725,000 when he was arrested on Friday.
Prosecutors allege that Clark was the mastermind of the scheme that hacked accounts of celebrities and politicians, and sent tweets from their accounts seeking payments of Bitcoin, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Clark’s attorney, David Weisbrok, argued it wasn’t reasonable to set bail at six times the amount his client is accused of stealing. Lawyers have said he has $3 million in Bitcoin under his control, the newspaper reported.
Prosecutors had sought to have Clark held on $30 million, which is $1 million for each charge Clark faces — 17 counts of communications fraud, 11 counts of fraudulent use of personal information, and one count each of organized fraud of more than $5,000 and accessing computers or electronic devices without authority.
Officials said Clark poses a threat to society if he has access to a computer. The state attorney’s office is prosecuting him as an adult.
They want Clark to prove the money he puts up for bail was obtained legitimately rather than through criminal activity.
Two other men also were charged in the case. Mason Sheppard, 19, of Bognor Regis, United Kingdom, and Nima Fazeli, 22, of Orlando, were charged separately last week in California federal court.
Fazeli’s father told The Associated Press on Friday that he’s absolutely certain his son is innocent.
“He’s a very good person, very honest, very smart and loyal,” Mohamad Fazeli said. “We are as shocked as everybody else. “I’m sure this is a mix up.”
Federal court records didn’t list attorneys for Sheppard or Fazeli.
During the high-profile security breach on July 15, authorities say, tweets were sent from the accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and a number of tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Celebrities Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West, also were hacked.