The person who identified himself as responsible for the Anna Kournikova virus will be prosecuted for spreading information via a computer network with the intention to create damage, Dutch authorities said today.

The self-proclaimed virus author will have to appear in court on 12 September. Although it is still uncertain what punishment the prosecutor will demand, it is clear that the sentence will not be more than six months in prison. It had been reported that the defendant could receive up to four years in jail.

The accused, who used the nickname OnTheFly, said he created the Anna Kournikova virus in February with a so-called worm creator. For two days the virus spread like wildfire and infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, according to antivirus software vendors. After realising the size of the damage he had done, he decided to turn himself in at a police station in his hometown of Sneek.

It will be the first time that a Dutch virus writer will be prosecuted for unleashing a virus on the internet. According to Andre Post, an antivirus specialist at the Symantec Antivirus Research Center, the prosecution of virus writers is rare not only in the Netherlands. He knew of just three convicted virus writers worldwide: two in the US and one in the UK.

The UK programmer in question is probably the once infamous Chris Pile who was prosecuted and sent down for 18 months in 1995 for writing the Smeg virus.