Report: Blaster suspect 'surprised' at arrest

A Minnesota teenager who was arrested last week and charged with releasing the W32.Blaster-B Internet worm has spoken of his surprise at being arrested and also said the media has mischaracterized him as a loner and reckless.

Jeffrey Lee Parson, 18, made the statements during his first media interview since his arrest last Friday. The interview was given off-camera to a producer from U.S. television network NBC's "Today" show and a transcript of the interview was posted on the Web site of MSNBC.

Parson revealed he had been questioned by authorities at least four times over a period of at least a week and said he had been cooperating with the investigation before being charged.

"When I was first approached by authorities, I never thought I was a suspect in a crime," he said, according to the transcript. Of being charged, he said: "I was very surprised. To me it came completely out of the blue that I was going to be arrested and charged with this offense."

Parson's lack of understanding of the direction the investigation was taking before he was charged appears to have continued, at least to the moment of the interview. He twice said he does not currently have a lawyer and he also admitted to not fully understanding the charges against him, having a copy of the complaint or having the complaint properly explained to him, according to the transcript.

The W32.Blaster-B worm is a variant of the W32.Blaster-A worm which infected millions of PCs last month. Blaster-B was released three days after the original worm, according to antivirus company Sophos PLC, and infected far fewer machines than the original, .

Parson declined to explain what part, if any, he played in the writing or release of the worm, citing his need to consult a lawyer before going into details. He did say that he believes the government is trying to make an example of him and that he is "not the one they need to get," according to the transcript.

He also said some characterizations of him in the media have been false. He said he is not a loner, not a misfit, not embarrassed about his weight, doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs and is not reckless. In getting a picture of him, he said the media have talked to the wrong people -- people who are not as close to him as they claimed to be.

Parson was arrested by federal law enforcement Friday morning and appeared in court in St. Paul, Minnesota in the afternoon of the same day. At the hearing Parson was released on a US$25,000 personal recognizance bond and instructed to appear before a magistrate in Seattle on Sept. 17.

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Martyn Williams

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