Junior Dmitriy Guzner will spend 366 days in a federal prison after pleading guilty to participation in an Internet attack on the Church of Scientology, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Guzner, a 20-year-old Interactive Digital Design major, was sentenced on Nov. 18 to the prison term, two years of probation, and charged $37,500 in damages to the Church of Scientology. The Verona, N.J., resident will begin his sentence following the conclusion of Quinnipiac’s spring semester.
The charges came after an Internet-based group “Anonymous” incited a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against Scientology Web sites, a Department of Justice press release said. Guzner was arrested for his connection with the “Anonymous” attack on July 2, 2007.
A DDOS attack occurs when a large amount of “malicious Internet traffic” floods a Web site or set of sites, leaving it unavailable for legitimate users.
According to Guzner, who spoke with The Chronicle on Friday, the DDOS attack was simply a “prank gone wrong.”
“I didn’t know that it was a crime at all when I was doing it,” he said.
Guzner said he was first introduced to the “Anonymous” plan through Digg.com, a Web site based on user-submitted content. He knew it was “mischievous” when he took part, but did not expect to be punished for it.
“Nobody gets this much of a sentence for what I did,” Guzner said. “From what I understand, I actually didn’t cause any damages.”
The New Haven Church of Scientology told The Chronicle they were aware of Guzner’s participation in the attack, but denied comment.
Guzner said his participation in the DDOS attack was without malice.
“I disagree with them [The Church of Scientology], but I’m not an activist,” Guzner said.
Scientology, the religion founded by writer L. Ron Hubbard, has become the target enemy of “Anonymous.” The Internet group released in 2008 that they would begin a “War on Scientology.”
One YouTube video entitled “Message to Scientology” contains a computer-generated voice that says: “For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind–for the laughs–we shall expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form.”
“We are ‘Anonymous,'” the voice identifies in the last few sentences of the video.
Guzner said he has no current connection to “Anonymous,” and plans on returning to Quinnipiac to complete his degree following his prison sentence.