Australian teenager who hacked Microsoft and US Army website says it was scary to flee the country but managed it easily
Meet Dylan Wheeler. He is the hacker who allegedly hacked into Microsoft, Valve and US Army websites and has been in the Australian law enforcement agencies radar for past 3 years but they have not been able to arrest him. Wheeler, an Australian teenage hacker from Perth, was able to flee easily despite having been ordered to take his passport into custody.
Mr. Wheeler, was only 17, when he and his hacker gang was accused of hacking and stealing at least $US100 million ($A108.2 million) worth of software and data from Microsoft, Valve and the US Army. He was under police radar following a joint international investigation into five suspected hackers, most of them US-based.
Facing a possible sentence of ten years, Mr. Wheeler fled the country almost after three years later. He says that it was really scary how easily he made way and was able to flee the country.
Currently, residing in the Czech Republic, Mr. Wheeler told 7.30, “I left Australia because my case went on for about two to three years and it was getting nowhere.”
“What they really wanted to do was take away my freedom and keep me confined into a room and I was not prepared to give away my human rights.
“It was quite scary that I was able to leave on my Australian passport, because they actually have a system called PACE … it’s a system they use at Border Control to basically figure out if you are a criminal if you are trying to leave the country, and normally it will flag you.”
According to the reports from The Weekend Australian, the teenager moved overseas due to court delays and harassment by West Australian police, which made it impossible for him to fund his legal defense.
Mr. Wheeler revealed that six days after he fled the freedom of Information request undertaken by him was placed on the database. The authorities had kept a tab on him since he was 17. As the case was still technically before the court, the WA Police denied 7.30’s request for an interview.
They also tried hiding the poor handling of the teenager who managed to escape the country even after being provided orders to surrender the passport. Since then, Mr. Wheeler’s mother Anna has been arrested on charges of helping his son flee the country, which she already denied.
Computer security expert, Troy Hunt said that an increasing number of youngsters are finding themselves in the same situation as Mr Wheeler.
“We are seeing a lot of kids around the world or very, very young adults get caught up in these kinds of incidents, just not realising the implications of what it is they are doing,” Mr Hunt said.
He urged young people considering getting involved in hacking to think twice.
“It is very much the same as writing an angry email or a drunken email… maybe write it and leave it sitting there and go away, have a little bit of a think about it the next day,” he said.
“Because it is just such a simple thing to tip over into that side where you really are on the wrong side of the law and most times, these guys do end up getting caught as well.”
Mr. Wheeler claims that he is putting his skills to good use by helping the European government protect themselves from various malicious hackers after leaving Australia. He is neither afraid of being caught up nor of his past.
“The accusations they have claimed are untrue and to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t committed a crime,” Mr. Wheeler said.
“I would like them to just drop the charges, drop the accusations and face defeat and say ‘hey, we stuffed up’.”
On the other hand, the Australian authorities have yet to make a formal request to extradite Mr. Wheeler, who boasted about fleeing to Europe while under police surveillance more than a fortnight ago.
The Australian Government is tight lipped on the case and are refusing to comment whether they are going to look to extradite Mr. Wheeler.
“As a matter of longstanding practice, the Australian Government does not disclose whether it has made, or intends to make, an extradition request to a foreign country until the person is arrested or brought before the court in a foreign country pursuant to that request,” a spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s Department said.
However, a spokesman for the Czech government has confirmed to the ABC that Australia is yet to formally request Mr. Wheeler’s extradition.
“[The] Ministry of Justice hasn’t been contacted by any authorities in this matter, so we have no information about the case of Mr. Wheeler,” the spokesman said.