Police arrest five over Anonymous attacks

Arrests follow investigations in UK, Europe and US into online campaign to support WikiLeaks

Stewart Mitchell
27 Jan 2011

Police have arrested five people over their alleged roles in an online campaign to support WikiLeaks.

Five males – aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26 – were arrested under the Computer Misuse Act in raids across the country at 7am this morning, with the suspects held in local police stations for further questioning.

According to the Met Police, the arrests relate "to recent and ongoing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by an online group calling themselves 'Anonymous'."

The wave of DDoS attacks started late last year and targeted PayPal, MasterCard and others who were perceived to have taken a stand against the whistle-blowing site following its release of leaked diplomatic cables.

The arrests follow an investigation by the Police Central e-Crime Unit and law enforcement agencies on mainland Europe and the US into the series of attacks which quickly gathered support on the web.

The Met Police said in December that it has been investigating Anonymous for several months, suggesting it started to look at the web activists before the WikiLeaks-connected attacks. The group has also targeted Scientology sites as well as anti-piracy firms, including ACS Law.

A pair of Dutch teenagers were arrested at the end of last year, also for allegedly taking part in Anonymous' Operation Payback attacks.

Anonymous has recently targeted official Tunisian and Egyptian sites, following anti-Government protests in those countries.

It is unclear exactly what charges the police might bring at this stage, but experts last year told PC Pro that Wikileaks protests involving DDoS attacks could carry a two-year jail stretch.

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