British Student Charged With Wikileaks Hacks

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A student from Hartlepool is the first to be charged with last year’s retaliatory hacks in support of Wikileaks

A British student was yesterday charged over Anonymous hacking attacks in support of online whistleblowers WikiLeaks late last year.

Peter Gibson, 22 from Hartlepool, is charged with conspiracy to do an unauthorised act in relation to a computer. He has been granted bail to appear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 7 September.

Anonymous is alleged to have conducted DDOS attacks against MasterCard, PayPal and Visa after they suspended WikiLeaks’ accounts in the wake of its release of sensitive US diplomatic cables.

Gibson was arrested by the Met’s e-Crime Unit in April and is the first British person to be charged over the attacks. Four others remain on bail while a fifth was recently released without charge.

Scotland Yard said in a statement on its website: “Gibson was arrested by officers from the Met’s Police Central e-Crime Unit in connection with an investigation into Anonymous, following allegations of DDOS attacks by the group against several companies.”

Prior arrests

British authorities have already charged two teenagers over DDOS attacks by Anonymous splinter group Lulzsec following a summer of well-publicised attacks and data breaches by the self-proclaimed “hacktivists”.

Jake Davis, 18 from the Shetland Isles, and 19-year-old Essex teenager Ryan Cleary are both on bail awaiting trial for, among other offences, an attack on the Serious Organised Crime Agency website in June.

The police also believe Davis to be Lulzsec’s spokesman ‘Topiary’ and accuse him of involvement the hack which placed a spoof report of Rupert Murdoch’s death on The Sun’s website.

Both are due to return to court to face Crown Court proceedings in London on 30 August.

New leaks

Wikileaks last night tweeted that it was releasing a further 97,152 “US diplomatic cables from every corner of the globe” in searchable format.

This batch is thought to be part of the cache of 250,000 leaked US State Department reports that began trickling out in December last year.

Reuters claims a member of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s inner circle had informed the news agency that this latest release was prompted by frustration at low media-interest in the cables.

However Wiklieaks claimed the Reuters article used “entirely fabricated sources” via its Twitter feed, although it did not identify which sources it was referring too.

The fallout

US Army Private Bradley Manning is accused of being the source of the leaked cables and is awaiting court martial in the US, after it was ruled in February he was fit to face trial.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks-founder Julian Assange is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against an earlier ruling that extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault would not breach his human rights.

Assange, himself a former computer hacker, claims the case is politically motivated in connection with the leaking of the US diplomatic cables.

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