The infamous Romanian hacker known as Guccifer, who managed to break into the online correspondence of the Bush and Clinton political dynasties, fueling years of right-wing conspiracies, declared his project a “failure,” according to his first US interview since getting out of prison in 2021.
Marcel Lehel Lazar, who served more than four years in federal prison in Pennsylvania, told The Intercept he set out to discover what he felt must be a hidden reason for America’s ongoing political dysfunction, but instead discovered a stranger and more mundane world, such as how former president George Bush likes to make paintings of himself in the bath.
“Look at the last 20 years of politics of United States,” Mr Lazar he told the outlet. “It’s all lies, and it went so low in the mud. You know what I’m saying? It stinks.”
Perhaps the hacker’s most enduring legacy is an indirect one.
Buried within the email correspondence Guccifer obtained from Clinton family associate Sidney Blumenthal was the revelation that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a private email account to conduct official business, a fact that became a long-simmering scandal that galvanised right-wing opposition against Ms Clinton’s presidential campaign and provided fodder for frequent attacks from Donald Trump.
Later, an online hacker dubbing his or herself Guccifer 2.0 continued to target the leading Democrat during the 2016 election season, hacking into the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Ms Clinton’s presidential campaign, and then releasing the stolen emails online via WikiLeaks.
In July of 2018, officials charged a dozen Russian intelligence officers as being behind the scheme.
Mr Lazar added in his Intercept interview that he resented that even though he helped expose Ms Clinton’s private email and then cooperated with federal officials, he ended up in jail while she didn’t face any charges over the incident.
“So much hypocrisy, come on man,” he said, adding, “I paid for this, you know. People have to have privacy. But, you see, it’s not like I wanted to know what my neighbors are talking about. But I wanted to know what these guys in the United States are speaking about, and this is the reason why. I was sure that, over there, bad stuff is happening. This is the reason why I did it, not some other shady reason. What I did is OK.”
Mr Lazar is now back in Romania for the first time since being arrested in 2014, and is reportedly working on a memoir.