LOS ANGELES -- Convicted computer hacker Kevin Mitnick has been released from prison into a world dominated by new technologies and an expanding Internet he can't yet visit.
Strict probation terms for Mitnick, 36, essentially leave him with a three-year cyber-sentence: He can't touch a computer or any other device that might link him to the Internet during that time.
''Obviously, the judge has expressed real concern about Mr. Mitnick being around computers,'' said U.S. Attorney Christopher Painter, who prosecuted him.
Mitnick had been accused of causing millions of dollars in damage by breaking into the computer systems of big technology companies such as Motorola, Novell, Nokia and Sun Microsystems.
He became an icon to some hackers after leading the FBI on a three-year manhunt that ended in 1995 when investigators traced his electronic footprints to a Raleigh, N.C., apartment.
After driving away with family members from the Federal Correctional Institute in Lompoc on Friday, Mitnick paused to read a prepared statement accusing prosecutors and the news media of grossly exaggerating his crimes and hindering his defense.
''My crimes were simple crimes of trespass,'' he said. ''My case is a case of curiosity. I wanted to know as much as I could find out about how phone networks worked, and the ins and outs of computer security.''
Attorney Don Randolph said Mitnick will try to persuade the court to allow him to attend college -- to study computer technology.
As Mitnick settles in Los Angeles, his publicist, Jack Biello, said his client's task will be to ''get his feet wet in modern day society and try to figure out how to make a living.''
In his statement, Mitnick railed at prosecutors and criticized as inaccurate two books -- ''Cyberpunk,'' which chronicled the early hacking days of himself and others, and ''Takedown,'' which focused on the manhunt for him.
New York Times reporter John Markoff, who co-authored the books, said Mitnick was not interviewed for them because he demanded payment.
The former hacker's criticisms suggest ''that he still doesn't get it,'' Markoff said. ''The simple fact is it is a felony to break into computers. It is a felony to commit telephone fraud.''
In an interview with CBS's ''60 Minutes'' scheduled to air today, Mitnick says he committed his crimes for fun, never profit.
''I was an accomplished trespasser,'' he said. ''I don't consider myself a thief. I copied without permission.''
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