Anonymous Hacker Investigation Nets Two Arrests in Southern California, FBI Says

Updated at the bottom with details linking the arrests to WikiLeaks. First posted at 2:56 p.m.

Two people were arrested in Southern California today as part of FBI raids against the loose-knit hacker crew Anonymous that were conducted in SoCal, New York and other regions, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told the Weekly.

Targets of the warrant searches were not yet named.

The hackers defended WikiLeaks as the government tried to isolate the site for its exposure of sensitive diplomatic documents. Anonymous ...

... is known for attacking corporate sites and putting them out of business temporarily.

It put the sites of Visa and MasterCard on temporary life support in December after the two companies pulled their processing of donations to WikiLeaks.

Eimiller said the SoCal arrests were made as part of complaints filed in federal court in the Northern District of California (in San Jose).

In all she said 35 search warrants were served from Southern California to Florida to New Jersey.

More to come ....

Update: In a statement Tuesday afternoon the FBI says 14 people, including the two from SoCal, were arrested for allegedly participating in an attack on PayPal in retaliation for the company's refusal to continue processing payments to WikiLeaks.

The late 2010 hack was called "Operation Avenge Assange," for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The FBI:

[The alleged Anonymous attack was] in retribution for PayPal's termination of WikiLeaks' donation account, a group calling itself Anonymous coordinated and executed distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against PayPal's computer servers using an open source computer program the group makes available for free download on the Internet. DDoS attacks are attempts to render computers unavailable to users through a variety of means, including saturating the target computers or networks with external communications requests, thereby denying service to legitimate users.

Two others affiliated with Anonymous were arrested under separate indictments, the FBI says.

Those arrested under the San Jose indictment include, according to the bureau:

Christopher Wayne Cooper, 23, aka "Anthrophobic;" Joshua John Covelli, 26, aka "Absolem" and "Toxic;" Keith Wilson Downey, 26; Mercedes Renee Haefer, 20, aka "No" and "MMMM;" Donald Husband, 29, aka "Ananon;" Vincent Charles Kershaw, 27, aka "Trivette," "Triv" and "Reaper;" Ethan Miles, 33; James C. Murphy, 36; Drew Alan Phillips, 26, aka "Drew010;" Jeffrey Puglisi, 28, aka "Jeffer," "Jefferp" and "Ji;" Daniel Sullivan, 22; Tracy Ann Valenzuela, 42; and Christopher Quang Vo, 22. One individual's name has been withheld by the court.

Five of the arrestees were found in Europe, including four suspects in the Netherlands and one in the U.K., authorities said. Other arrests came in Alabama, Arozona, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio, according to the FBI.

The suspects are being hit with conspiracy and "intentional damage to a protected computer" and could see as many as 10 years behind bars and $250,000 fines for each individual count.


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