Anonymous and LulzSec case: police fly to US to gather hacking evidence

British officers hope to gain more evidence to use in prosecution of UK teenagers suspected of carrying out online attacks


British police officers have flown to the US to gather evidence of computer hacking that could be used in the prosecution of two UK teenagers suspected of carrying out online attacks on behalf ofAnonymous and LulzSec.

Jake Davis, 18, from the Shetland Islands, and Ryan Cleary, 19, from Wickford, in Essex, will appear in January before Southwark crown court in London charged with attacks on websites including the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

While neither Davis nor Cleary were at Southwark crown court for a short hearing on Tuesday morning, Judge Nicholas Lorraine-Smith said the co-defendants would need to appear at the court for a plea and case management hearing on 27 January.

Davis, who was arrested earlier this month, and Cleary, who was arrested in June, are remanded on police bail, prohibited from accessing the internet via a computer or phone, and have restrictions on their movements.

It is believed the UK authorities are having to trawl through a large amount of forensic evidence to build their cases.

The FBI declined to comment on whether it has sought the extradition of the pair, whose arrests form part of an ongoing international investigation into a number of online attacks by members of the hacking collective Anonymous and the smaller group LulzSec.

Cleary is charged with offences under the Computer Misuse Act, including conspiring with other people to create a remotely controlled network of zombie computers, known as a “botnet”, which crashes websites. He is also alleged to have carried out attacks against Soca, the British Phonographic Industry’s website and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s website, and with making, adapting or supplying a botnet for a distributed denial of services (DDoS) attack, which brings down sites by bombarding them with repeated requests to load webpages.

Davis is accused of offences under the Computer Misuse Act, the Serious Crime Act, and the Criminal Law Act, including unlawfully gathering data from NHS computers, being involved with attacks on News International and being part of an attack that crashed the Soca’s website.

LulzSec has claimed responsibility for online attacks against Soca and the Sun newspaper, as well as targeting US authorities such as the Senate and the CIA.

Peter David Gibson, a 22-year-old student from Hartlepool, was charged in connection with online attacks related to Anonymous last Thursday. US authorities have so far arrested more than 16 people there as part of their investigation into the groups.