Three West Germans were convicted Thursday of selling the Soviet Union information they got by sneaking into Western military databases using a home computer and a telephone.
In West Germany's first computer hacker trial, ex-croupier Peter Carl, 35, and two computer wizards were given suspended jail terms of up to two years.
Markus Hess, 28, and Dirk Brzezinski, 30, were said to have broken--or hacked--into military and industrial computer networks in the United States, Europe and the Far East to obtain information they sold to the Soviet KGB secret police for $54,000.
Carl, the main contact man, made numerous trips to East Berlin and handed over floppy disks full of data to a KGB agent code-named Sergei, who operated from the Soviet trade mission.
The three defendants, who faced a maximum sentence of five years, smiled at each other as presiding Judge Leopold Spiller read the verdict at the district court in Celle near Hanover.
Explaining the decision to give sentences much lighter than the prosecution had demanded, Spiller said: "No serious damage to West Germany has arisen."