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'Anonymous' cyber-hackers arrested in US, Europe

July 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Sixteen individuals were arrested in the U.S. Tuesday for alleged involvement in computer hacking, the FBI announced.

Fourteen of the suspects are allegedly part of the cyber-attack group known as "Anonymous." Two other suspects were arrested for separate attacks.

The U.S. arrests were made in multiple states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington, D.C.

Each of the defendants were charged with various counts of conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer, according to the FBI.

One person was arrested in the United Kingdom and four were arrested in Holland for related cyber crimes.

FBI agents executed more than 35 search warrants Tuesday in relation to the investigation into computer attacks against major companies and organizations.

The group "Anonymous" is suspected of using coordinated cyber attacks in Dec. 2010 against the online payment company PayPal, allegedly as retribution for the company's suspension of Wikileaks account.

WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange had released classified U.S. State Dept. documents on the site. PayPal suspended the WikiLeaks account, stating violations of terms of service were the reason.

An indictment against the group said "Anonymous" dubbed the PayPal attack "Operation Avenge Assange."

PayPal was hit with a series of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, making the site unavailable to legitimate users.

A Florida man was arrested for targeting a non-profit Tampa Bay computer security group affiliated with the FBI. A New Mexico man was arrested for targeting AT&T. The two will be charged with intentional damage to a protected computer.

The maximum penalty of a conspiracy count is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for intentional damage to a protected computer is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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