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Accused Capital One hacker denied release from jail

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Seattle hacker charged in the massive Capital One data breach will remain in a men’s federal detention center, calling the transgender woman both a physical and financial danger.

Cybersecurity expert on Capital One breach

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle Peterson said prosecutors proved Paige Thompson is a serious flight risk and would be a danger to the community if she’s released.

Thompson, a former Amazon employee, was arrested last month for allegedly stealing the personal information of more than 100 million Capital One customers, and hacking dozens of other companies.

“You are highly talented and have the means to create additional havoc in our banking system,” Judge Peterson said.

Prosecutors said Thompson should be detained for several reasons, including her lack of ties to the community, residential instability, and unemployment. All of those factors, prosecutors said, make Thompson a risk of flight. They also laid out her erratic behavior in recent years, including threats to shoot up a California social media company and threatening to commit “suicide by cop.”

“The record in this case shows Ms. Thompson is a danger,” said assistant U.S. attorney Andrew Friedman.

Thompson’s lawyers argued she should be released from jail in part because she’s being held with men.

“She’s a greater risk inside as opposed to outside,” said Mohammad Ali Hamoudi, arguing Thompson should be placed in a halfway house instead of a men’s prison. “The federal detention center is not equipped to treat gender dysphoria.”

Thompson is currently being held at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center in the male wing because the Bureau of Prison houses inmates based on their “biological sex.” Prosecutors said the bureau is used to dealing with transgender offenders and that Thompson is receiving all hormone medication. Friedman told the judge the prison’s psychologists report Thompson “generally good and she feels safe.”

If convicted, prosecutors say Thompson could face more than 10 years in prison.

Upon news of the judge’s decision Friday, a Capital One spokesperson released the following statement:

Capital One appreciates the diligent and thorough work of the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in this investigation, and their efforts to keep the community safe. We have seen no evidence that our customers’ data was used for fraud or disseminated, and the government’s statements are consistent with that. We continue to investigate this matter and will be as supportive as possible to federal authorities in their investigation and ongoing court case.

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