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Zotob suspect appears in court

Moroccan magistrate asks teenager about worms that caused havoc at more than 100 U.S. businesses.

A Moroccan magistrate questioned an 18-year-old science student in court on Tuesday about his alleged role in unleashing computer worms that disrupted networks across the United States last month.

Farid Essebar appeared before the investigating magistrate in Rabat for three hours of questioning about the Zotob worm, his lawyer said. The worm caused computer outages at more than 100 U.S. companies, including major media outlets like CNN and The New York Times.

"My client Farid Essebar was interrogated by a Rabat court investigating judge over the Zotob worm release on the Internet. He was returned back to detention in a Rabat jail," said his lawyer, Mohamed Fertat.

Essebar, an experimental science student who has been in jail since his arrest on Aug. 25, was remanded in custody and will be questioned again on Sept. 21, Fertat added.

Essebar's arrest in Morocco was part of a coordinated operation involving Turkish authorities who detained 21-year-old Attila Ekici, also suspected of involvement in the release of the Zotob worm, the FBI said in Washington.

Fertat said Moroccan law allows authorities to hold a suspect in custody for two months and this can be renewed five times if necessary.

"I expect the investigation to find him not guilty and that he will not be charged of any crime," he added.

Court or police officials were not immediately available for comment.

Despite the Zotob worm's power, it did not create such widespread havoc as previous malicious software programs, including SQL Slammer and MyDoom.

The FBI said close teamwork with Microsoft and authorities in Morocco and Turkey helped net Essebar and Ekici 12 days after the attack.

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