"Under no circumstances was the data ever made public. It was only given to Gawker Media under the condition that it would be redacted, just as proof that the data had been leaked and this was not a fictitious claim. Had it not been released to the media in the way it was, it would have been swept under the rug and users would never have known," Kaiser said.
Despite claims the men were trying to guard user privacy by exposing the security flaw, the FBI saw the attack as purely criminal.
"Unauthorized intrusions into personal privacy adversely affect individual citizens, businesses, and even national security," said Michael Ward, special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark field office.
"Such intrusion cases, regardless of the motive is criminal gain or prestige among peers in the cyber-hacking world, must and will be aggressively pursued to ensure these rights are protected to the highest degree," Ward said.
In a 2008 interview with the New York Times, Auernheimer spoke about his hacker activities.
"I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money. I make people afraid for their lives," he said to the Times.
The two allegedly mused about gaining publicity for the hack. In more online conversations seized by the feds and put in the complaint they allegedly scheme about the best way to capture a reporter's attention.
"if we get 1 reporters address with this somehow we instantly have a story ... the best way to have a leadin on it ... HI I STOLE YOUR EMAIL FROM AT &&T WANT TO KNOW HOW?" Auernheimer allegedly wrote to Spitler.
The men also allegedly went so far as to discuss making a profit over the breach in the stock market, with the defendants discussing delaying the announcement of the breach so they could short AT&T stock, the complaint says.
AT&T was left apologizing to the 120,000 iPad users, and the complaint says the company has spent roughly $73,000 so far to remedy the data breach.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Spitler surrendered today to the FBI in Newark and is scheduled to appear in federal court. Auernheimer is scheduled to appear in federal court in Fayetteville. Neither men have entered a plea and attorneys for both could not be reached for comment.