Romanian NASA Hacker Gets a Three-year Suspended Prison Sentence

Robert Butyka, a 26-year old Romanian man accused of hacking into multiple NASA servers, received a three-year suspended prison sentence on Tuesday after admitting his guilt.

Butyka was arrested by prosecutors from the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) on Nov. 15, in his home city of Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

He was charged with obtaining unauthorized access to a computer system, modifying damaging and restricting access to data without authorization and possessing hacking programs.

During the first trial hearing on January 10, Butyka admitted that he hacked into several NASA servers over an extended period of time that started in Dec. 12, 2010. However, his legal defense team challenged NASA's damage claims of $580,000.

According to local media reports, the Cluj-Napoca Court sentenced Butyka on Tuesday to three-year of suspended prison time with a probation period of seven years. The sentence can be appealed in the next 10 days.

The judge also decided to form a separate case around NASA's damage claims that will be tried in a civil court. The trial date was set for March 13 to allow the U.S. government agency to prepare its evidence.

Robert Butyka was released on Tuesday after spending the last two months in pre-trial detention. According to prosecutors, he has no higher education and was unemployed at the time of his arrest.

Butyka's case is similar to that of another Romanian NASA hacker named Victor Faur, who received a 16-month suspended prison sentence in November 2008. Faur is currently appealing a court verdict ordering him to pay damages of $240,000 to the U.S. government.

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