5 LulzSec/Anonymous members charged after leader helps FBI

The story has been updated with additional information.

The FBI has filed charges against five members of the hacker groups LulzSec and Anonymous, after the group’s leader reportedly helped investigators with information following his own arrest in 2011.

The five suspects include two in Great Britain, two in Ireland and one in Chicago, the FBI said.

The group’s leader, Hector Xavier Monsegur, 28, of New York, who operated under the alias “Sabu,” was arrested in June 2011 and quietly pleaded guilty in August to a dozen hacking-related charges. He since has assisted the FBI in its investigation, according to FoxNews.com, which first reported the arrests.

The others charged are Ryan Ackroyd (known as Kayla) and Jake Davis (Topiary), both of London; Darren Martyn (Pwnsauce) and Donncha O’Cearrbhail (Palladium), both of Ireland; and Jeremy Hammond (Anarchaos) of Chicago.

An FBI statement said Monsegur, Ackroyd, Davis and Martyn have been members of Anonymous, Internet Feds and LulzSec, or Lulz Security, which they formed in May 2011.

O’Cearrbhail is identified as a member of Anonymous and Internet Feds and, in addition to charges filed by the FBI, faces separate charges in Ireland.

Among other things, O’Cearrbhail is charged with intercepting and posting a conference call Jan. 17 among the FBI, Scotland Yard and Ireland’s national police, the Garda.

Hammond, who the FBI said identified himself as a member of AntiSec when he was arrested March 5, is charged with the December 2011 hack into intelligence analysis company Strategic Forecasting. Anonymous and LulzSec announced AntiSec in June 2011 as a combined campaign targeting government websites.

The hack against Sratfor, whose customers include government agencies, netted e-mail and other information on the company’s customers, which was published and has since been used in spear phishing attacks. The FBI said the hack has affected as many as 860,000 victims.

The FBI said Ackroyd, Davis, Martyn and O’Cearrbhail are charged specifically with computer hacking conspiracy in hacks of Fox Broadcasting, Sony Pictures and PBS.

Monsegur pleaded guilty on Aug. 15, 2011, to charges in connection with hacks of HBGary, Sony Pictures, Fox Broadcasting and Infragard Members Alliance, an FBI-affiliated organization in Atlanta, the FBI said.

After pleading guilty to the charges, Monsegur, who the FBI said could face a maximum of 124 years in prison on all the charges, began cooperating with investigators, according to Fox News.

Barrett Brown, an Anonymous member and spokesman for the group, told Bloomberg, “If that’s true, he’s an absolute traitor. God knows what’s compromised.”

A  message on Anonymous’ Twitter feed http said: “@anonymouSabu is now controlled by feds. We have blocked the account and we suggest you do as well. BlockAnonymouSabu.”

Anonymous and LulzSec gained notoriety for a series of attacks on government websites such as those of the Senate, CIA and law enforcement organizations, in addition to those on corporate sites. But a series of arrests in the United States and Europe 2011 had slowed LulzSec’s operation.

In June 2011, shortly after LulzSec announced it was teaming up with Anonymous for Operation AntiSec, specifically targeting government sites, Lulz announced on its Twitter feed that it was disbanding.

After more arrests of alleged LulzSec and Anonymous members in September 2011, a tweet from Sabu said he and one other LulzSec member were the only ones who hadn’t been arrested.

Of today’s arrests, an FBI official involved in the investigation told FoxNews, “This is devastating to the organization. We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.”

Brown, however, told the New York Times that the arrests won’t stop Anoymous’ activities. “The FBI did not really cut the head off of anything,” he said. “Anonymous will go forward as usual. … We hired an army of lawyers last January. We are prepared for a big slug-out.”

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