Hacker Who Turned In Chelsea Manning Dead At 37, Julian Assange Delighted

Adrian Lamo, best known as the computer hacker who exposed Army whistleblower Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, died Friday at the age of 37.

Lamo's father announced the news in a Facebook post, and the cause of death remains unclear.

"With great sadness and a broken heart I have to let know all of Adrian’s friends and acquaintances that he is dead," Mario Lamo wrote. "A bright mind and compassionate soul is gone, he was my beloved son."

A spokeswoman for Sedgwick county regional forensic center said that an autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death. 

Lamo, known as the "homeless hacker" for his often transient lifestyle, first made waves in 2002 when he broke into the New York Times' intranet, where he added his name to a database of expert sources and then used their LexisNexis account to research high profile subjects. He pleaded guilty, paid a fine and was sentenced to six months of home detention. 

Adrian Lamo (left), Kevin Mitnick, Kevin Poulsen (2001)

In a subsequent inteview with NBC to discuss the Times hack, Lamo was booted off the show by network lawyers after he cracked into NBC's servers. 

Lamo says NBC was taping him at Kinko's while he demonstrated security holes in a telecommunications company's systems, when the interviewer asked him if he'd be successful hacking NBC.

Five minutes and one guessed password later and Lamo was surfing the television network's private messaging system and an affiliate scheduling application that included internal memos and information on advertising rates. Screen shots of the hack provided by Lamo and reviewed by SecurityFocus Online include a page from an NBC vendor database with the network's trademark "living color" peacock and the warning, "All information contained on this Web site is to be held in the strictest confidence," in all capital letters. "It was a very full service system," recalls Lamo. -SecurityFocus.com (2002)

Lamo's most infamous act, however, was dropping the dime on Chelsea Manning after the two had engaged in a private chat in which Lamo gained Manning's trust. 

(10:22:24 AM) bradass87: uhm, trying to keep a low profile for now though, just a warning

(10:23:34 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: I’m a journalist and a minister. You can pick either, and treat this as a confession or an interview (never to be published) & enjoy a modicum of legal protection.

(10:24:07 AM) bradass87: assange level?

(10:25:12 AM) bradass87: or are you socially engineering ;P

(10:25:51 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: You must not have done your research 😛

(10:25:57 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: I could have flipped for the FBI.

(10:26:05 AM) info@adrianlamo.com: Gotten a sweeter deal.

During the chat, Manning revealed how he had transferred sensitive information onto a commercial server and uploaded it to WikiLeaks after communicating with Julian Assange. Lomo took advantage of the fact that Manning was emotionally unhinged, and continued to pump him for information - which he then gave to the FBI, which he says he did because he believed "lives were in danger."

There was no option to interdict just the documents and put him merely in touch with counseling. There was no way to be both kind to Bradley and mindful of the potential for harm to people I had never known and would never know which the situation posed. The reader might think there was some more moderate choice that I overlooked but I looked closely, and no such choice existed. -Adrian Lamo

Lamo was shunned by the hacking community after turning Manning in, and was labeled a snitch

Unsurprisingly, Julian Assange wasn't too broken up about Lamo's death, tweeting "Coroner says serial FBI snitch Adrian Lamo is dead. Lamo, a fake journalist, petty conman & betrayer of basic human decency, promised alleged source @xychelsea journalistic protection, friendship and support, then sold him to the FBI."

Lamo's death has received a variety of responses: