‘It Was Wrong’: Hollywood Hacker Says He’s Sorry

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Actress Scarlett Johansson, one of the hacking victims, is photographed on September 25, 2011 in Milan, Italy.

Christopher Chaney, a Florida man accused of hacking into the email accounts of about 50 celebrities, says it was just a curiosity that went too far—and that he “deeply apologizes” to celebrity victims like Scarlett Johansson.

Chaney spoke in an exclusive interview with a Fox affiliate in Jacksonville, Fla. The bearded white man described himself as “addicted” to the email streams that he had hijacked using the forward feature (meaning that every time an email showed up in a starlet’s mailbox, it would automatically send a copy to him). He was given a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of big-screen stars, he said, and he just couldn’t help himself. When the FBI showed up and jacked his computer, he said he was relieved for the affair to have found some conclusion.

He took blame for what he did to Johansson, Christina Aguilera and others. “I know what I did was probably the worst invasion of privacy someone could experience,” Chaney said. “I’m not trying to escape what I did. It was wrong. And I have to just face that and go forward.”

As unsettling, and illegal, as his alleged actions were, one imagines it would be quite hard to give up what Chaney likened to “completely uncensored blogs.” (Just look at how helpless the populous is to resist TMZ.) But, to repurpose a Samuel Johnson quote, “When once a man has made celebrity necessary to his happiness, he has put it in the power of the weakest and most timorous malignity.” You hear that, Chaney? Malignity.

MORE: How Social Media Helps Hackers

Katy Steinmetz is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @KatySteinmetz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.