Hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning dies in Wichita

Adrian Lamo was infamous for his corporate hacking and for turning in Chelsea Manning to the FBI. 

The Sedgwick County coroner’s office is investigating the cause of death for Adrian Lamo, 37, who had a long and complicated relationship with the hacking community. The computer specialist, who was found dead Wednesday in Wichita, Kansas, is most famous for having turned in Chelsea Manning to the FBI when Manning transferred thousands of documents to Wikileaks.

Lamo’s rap sheet speaks to a life full of contradictions. In 2004, he was convicted of computer fraud for hacking into the New York Times, Microsoft, and other companies. Lamo’s series of high-profile attacks uncovered key security vulnerabilities at the companies he targeted, but also caused them major damage and expense.

His notoriety from this incident made him famous in hacking circles, and he attested that this was the reason Manning sought him out to help with the Wikileaks dump. Online, Lamos operated under aliases like Protagonist, Bitter Geek, AmINotMerciful, Unperceived, Mythos, Arcane, truefaith, and FugitiveGame.

Lamo had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and was in and out of hospitals in the Wichita area. In a very personal series of interviews with Krebs On Security, Lamo was revealed to have a life story filled with emotional abuses, and was essentially homeless.

Lamo tipped off law enforcement officials regarding Manning’s activities in 2012, and in 2013 Manning was convinced for leaking classified documents. She was released from a military prison after being pardoned by Barack Obama just seven years into a 35-year sentence.

Sedgwick County spokeswoman Kate Flavin said Friday that Adrian Lamo’s body was at the morgue in Wichita, but she had no other details about the 37-year-old’s death. Wichita Police Department officer Charley Davidson said there was a call placed at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, and that the body was recovered soon after. Further information will be released by WPD as their investigation continues, but preliminary indications are that no foul play is suspected. Toxicology reports have been ordered, but will not be available for several weeks.

We can only hope that online conspiracy media won’t go full Seth Rich on this story in the meantime, given that it combines a number of lighting rod topics and a frustrating lack of solid information.