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Brussels Airlines seeks €20,000 from hacker who booked free New York flights
A man has gone on trial accused of hacking Brussels Airlines' booking system to obtain free flights to New York worth almost €20,000.
The 25-year-old appeared in Mechelen criminal court on Monday to answer charges of computer hacking. Brussels Airlines has registered as a civil claimant in the case and is seeking compensation.
The man is accused of booking three business class tickets from Brussels to New York - for himself and two friends - in autumn 2016, costing €6,000 each, by exploiting a security flaw in the airline's system.
Prosecutor Karel Berteloot said the man had "bought several tickets via a special application only for [Brussels Airlines] employees, cancelled them to get his money back, then manipulated the URL of the ticket to be able to use it".
The airline's lawyer, Michel Verhaegen, said the €20,000 it is claiming in damages included the cost of the tickets, airport tax and about €1,000 that was spent on fixing the loophole.
The defendant's lawyer, Sven Martens, said the €1,000 costs should not be included because the man had cooperated with Brussels Airlines and helped share his knowledge of the computer system's weaknesses.
He was convicted of hacking the computer systems of Lufthansa, Thalys, Mobistar and Proximus in 2017 and has been on probation since. "Since the last trials, no new offences have been committed," Mertens said.
A judgment is expected on 30 March.