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16 May 2013, 23:20

LulzSec trial: sentence handed down for UK hackers

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LulzSec End icon On Thursday, after a two day trial, a British court sentenced four hackers with ties to the LulzSec hacker group. Three of them were given jail time while one was given a suspended sentence. LulzSec made waves in 2011 with several major hacking campaigns.

The harshest sentence was given to 21-year-old Ryan Cleary, known as "Ryan" and "Viral" online – two years and eight months imprisonment, of which he has to serve 16 months. Cleary was not a full member of the group, but he occasionally let them use his large-scale botnet. The police also found level 3 and 4 child pornography on his computer; the judge appointed a separate date to handle that case.

The second highest sentence went to Ryan Ackroyd, a 26-year-old who claimed, even to his LulzSec partners-in-crime, to be a 16-year-old girl and was known as "Kayla". In reality, he joined the British army when he was 19 and even served in Iraq. Ackroyd, who is considered to be the most talented hacker of the group, was sentenced to 30 months of prison, of which he must serve 15.

Jake Davis, also known as "Topiary", was the voice of the group. When LulzSec broke into the web site of British tabloid The Sun, Davis, now 20 years old, used the opportunity to publish a fake story announcing that paper owner Rupert Murdoch had been found dead with a pile of drugs. Davis must serve half of his 24-month sentence in a juvenile detention centre and will be on probation for the other half.

Mustafa Al-Bassam, an 18-year-old who was known by the others in LulzSec as "tflow", got off lightly in comparison – since he was a minor when he was active in the group, he was given a 20 month suspended sentence and 300 hours of community service.

LulzSec made news in 2011 with attacks on the web servers for Sony Pictures, and TV channel PBS as well as on the CIA's web site and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency. While the attacks were going on, the FBI tracked down 28-year-old Hector Xavier Monsegur, a leading member of LulzSec known as "Sabu", in New York. In the months that followed, Monsegur served as an informant and provided the FBI with information about other members, who were then arrested on 6 March 2012 in an organised international operation.

A hacker from the US with ties to LulzSec, Cody Kretsinger, was sentenced to a year of prison in April for his role in the attack on Sony Pictures. Jeremy Hammond ("Anarchaos") has been in pre-trial custody since his arrest in March and is still waiting on a court date. Monsegur, the ringleader-turned-informant, will be sentenced on 23 August. Two Irish members of the group were arrested and then released and have yet to go to court, while the identity and whereabouts of another member, "Avunit", are unknown.


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