The founder of hacking group Lulzsec, Sabu, has had his sentence postponed in order to continue working with the FBI.
Sabu - real name Hector Xavier Monsegur - encouraged Lulzsec members to hack websites including those of the CIA, Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), Sony Pictures Europe and News International during the summer of 2011. But little did the group's members know that at that time Sabu was a double agent, working with the FBI.
He'd been co-operating with the authorities following his arrest in March 2011, allowing the FBI to monitor the activities of Lulzsec hackers leading to the arrest of several alleged members, including Jeremy Hammond, a suspected member of Anonymous thought to be behind the security breach of private intelligence firm Stratfor.
Monsegur, aged 29, was due to appear in a New York court last Friday to face charges of identity theft, bank fraud and 10 counts of hacking, which combined could potentially have resulted in a maximum penalty of 124 years in prison.
However, US Department of Justice papers seen by Arstechnica reveal that sentencing has been postponed until 23 August 2013 "in light of the defendant's ongoing co-operation with the government".
Sabu had already pleaded guilty to the charges facing him in August 2011, amid speculation that he'd be given a suspended sentence rather than prison time.
Criminal defence lawyer Jay Leiderman specialises in computing-related crimes and has represented members of Anonymous in hacking cases. Speaking to Computing in December, he argued that governments should take advantage of the skills hackers can offer.
"There are a lot of good things that come from exploits and messing with people's sites. We've learned how to be more secure, we find different uses and different applications for things and there's some curiosity to be encouraged here and government really seems to be trying to stifle it in its entirety," he said.