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Man rescued near Cuba by Disney cruise charged for hacking Boston Children’s Hospital

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BOSTON–A Somerville, Massachusetts man was arrested in Miami on Wednesday for his role in launching a cyber attack on Boston Children’s Hospital’s computer system.

According to the FBI, Martin Gottesfeld, 31, posted a YouTube video on March 23, 2014, that instructed viewers how to hack the hospital’s server. He said he was acting for Anonymous, an international group of hackers, and that the goal was to protest the hospital for its treatment of a patient, who the FBI calls patient A.

Patient A is Justina Pelletier, a West Hartford teenager involved in a high-profile custody battle between her parents and Massachusetts, a case which FOX 61 covered extensively.

The video’s narrator, whose voice was disguised by a computer program, stated, “will punish all those held accountable and will not relent until [Patient A] is free.”

According to the FBI, Gottesfeld was aware since October 2014 that he was being investigated by the federal  government. At that time, the FBI searched his home in relation to the cyber attack.

The attack occurred on April 19, 2014, and the affidavit from the FBI states the cyber attack impacted the hospital’s network for a week. It was one of two that Gottesfield and others orchestrated. The hospital spent more than $300,000 to fix the damage from the attack.

Last week, Somerville Police went to the Gottesfeld home for a wellness check after getting calls from his employer and relatives that didn’t know where he was.

On Tuesday, the FBI learned Gottesfeld and his wife had fled Massachusetts after the bureau was notified that they  had showed up on a cruise ship in the Bahamas, and that they weren’t registered guests on the ship. It was reported that the ship, a Disney Cruise, had responded to a distress call made by Gottesfeld and his wife when their small boat had issues off the coast of Cuba. Gottesfeld was arrested when the cruise returned to port on Wednesday.

Gottesfeld is charged with one count of conspiracy, and faces a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, restitution and a fine of $250,000.

The Pelletier story first came to light in November 2013 when Justina was 15, nine months after the saga began. She was diagnosed several years earlier with mitochondrial disease, a genetic disorder that can cause loss of muscle coordination and weakness.

In February 2013, she was admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital after getting the flu, and the doctors disagreed with her mitochondrial diagnosis, saying she instead had somatoform disorder, a mental illness. Four days after she was admitted her parents lost custody of their daughter to the hospital for “overmedicalizing” Justina by giving her too many medications and subjecting her to complex surgeries.

A report written by one of her physicians said, in part: “Due to concerns regarding Justina’s regressive behavior changes around her family, the multiple medical procedures and care episodes she has been through … and both parents’ resistance towards recommended treatment plans for Justina … a child protection team was convened.”

Justina was returned to her family in June 2014, 16 months after her parents first lost custody.

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