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HACKER “9NEAR” GIVES IN TO POLICE

On Wednesday, a hacker accused of stealing and attempting to sell practically every Thai citizen turned himself in to police after hiding for weeks to evade arrest.

Sgt. Maj. Khemarat Boonchuay came at the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau this morning, where he and his wife were being questioned by police as of publication time. The suspect remained mute, according to police.

Khemarat, a soldier in the army’s transportation department, was identified by authorities as the hacker behind the alias 9Near who threatened to release personal data of 55 million Thai civilians alleged to have been taken from the government’s Mor Prom immunization application.

It’s unknown how the hacker gained access to the database or what his motivations were. Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, minister of digital economy, dismissed allegations that the suspect was politically motivated, saying he was only seeking fame.

“He is not involved in politics or the election, but some political groups are using this incident to discredit him,” Chaiwut added. “We know that the suspect did not sell or use the data, but he simply posted it on social media to generate attention.” Khemarat was served with an arrest warrant earlier this month on accusations under the Computer Crime Act and the Personal Data Protection Act.

Police previously failed to apprehend the suspect when he was identified as the hacker, and a warrant for his arrest was issued on April 2. According to the cybercrime police commander, the suspect could not be found since his phone had been turned off.

“We issued a letter summoning the suspect to the suspect’s agency, but they said the suspect couldn’t be reached because his phone was turned off,” Pol. Lt. Gen. Worawat Watnakornbancha said Friday. “Neither was his wife.”

The army also appeared to distance itself from the hacker, claiming that he was acting in his personal capacity. The suspect was removed from active duty after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

“This is personal wrongdoing and has nothing to do with his military service,” army spokesman Sirichan Ngathong said Sunday. “He works as a driver and is not involved in IT duties.”

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