A federal judge has reversed an earlier court order and released from custody a woman accused in one of the country’s largest data breaches, finding that Paige Thompson does not pose enough of a threat to the community or herself to justify holding her behind bars pending trial.

Thompson, who is accused of hacking into the computer system of Capital One Bank and compromising the personal data of more than 100 million people, had been held against her protests in the men’s wing of the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac. Prosecutors claimed the 33-year-old transgender woman was a flight risk, a suicide risk and a possible danger to the public. Thompson’s attorneys disputed all of those allegations.

U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik, continuing a detention hearing that began in August, imposed stringent rules on Thompson’s release, including that she be moved to a federal halfway house and be subjected to GPS monitoring at all times. She is completely banned from accessing the internet or from using computers, cellphones or other electronic devices without explicit permission from the court or federal Pretrial Services.

Thompson, a former Amazon software engineer who was living in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, was arrested July 29 and faces up to 25 years in prison on one count of wire fraud and one count of computer fraud and abuse. Her current trial date is in March 2020.

In an indictment handed up Aug. 28, Thompson is accused of hacking Capital One and three other unidentified victims who “rented or contracted for computer servers” from the same cloud-computing company. While authorities have not named the involved cloud-computing company, Thompson previously worked for Amazon Web Services, which provides cloud services to Capital One among other customers. Only four victims are described in the indictment, though it notes she is suspected of stealing data from 30 entities.

The indictment states that Thompson targeted firewalls that had been misconfigured by the cloud-computing customers and had intended to use the servers to mine cryptocurrency.


Prosecutors had argued that Thompson suffers from depression and other mental health issues that make her a potential flight or suicide risk. However, her attorneys argued she was much more likely to suffer depression or try to harm herself due to the fact that she was a transgender woman being held in the men’s section of the FDC. Her attorneys assured the judge that Thompson would have a place to stay, community support, and would be able to obtain a job if necessary.

A U.S. magistrate judge had sided with prosecutors following an initial detention hearing after the government argued that Thompson had no stable residence or local family ties; was unemployed; and has a history of drug abuse and mental-health issues, including threats to kill herself and to shoot up the office of a California social-media company.

Capital One already has set aside $100 million to cover costs connected to the breach, and has suffered losses to its share price.