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'Guccifer' hacker who leaked Bush paintings arrested in Romania

Silviu Matei / Mediafax / Reuters

Marcel Lazar Lehel, 40, is escorted by masked policemen in Bucharest, after being arrested in Arad, 337 miles west of Bucharest, Jan. 22, 2014. Lehel is allegedly the hacker using the nicknames "Guccifer."

Guccifer, the infamous hacker perhaps best known for breaking into the email accounts of former secretary of state Colin Powell and several Bush and Rockefeller family members, among many others, was arrested Wednesday in Romania, local media reported.

Marcel Lazăr Lehel, 40, also known online as Little Smoke, was arrested at his home in the western city of Arad following a raid by Romania's Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).

The agency said there was "reasonable suspicion" that the suspect "repeatedly and illegally accessed, breaking security rules, email accounts belonging to public persons in Romania with the aim of getting electronic mail confidential data."

George Bush presents a painting to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.

NBC News could not immediately verify the name.

The statement from the agency made no mention of Guccifer's activities outside of Romania, but DIICOT said it had cooperated with U.S. authorities.

Not only did Guccifer leak former President George W. Bush's much-critiqued paintings -- including two ablution-themed self-portraits — but he also hacked into Powell's account, revealing an alleged affair with Romanian European Parliament member Corina Cretu.

Guccifer published a few email exchanges, as well as photos Cretu had sent Powell.

The former U.S. official denied the affair with the former presidential spokeswoman.

But while to the Western world the hacker appeared to come out of nowhere with the Bush email leak last February, Lehel was already known to Romanian authorities years earlier.

In February 2012, the man was convicted of dozens of hacking-related charges for allegedly breaking into dozens of email and Facebook accounts of Romanian celebrities and officials between October 2010 and July 2011. 

The hacker claimed his other victims included actor Steve Martin, editor Tina Brown, journalist Carl Bernstein, "Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes, and the head of Romania's intelligence services, among others. 

Guccifer's hacks also compromised many former U.S. military officials, including ex-Secretary of the Air Force George Roche.