A federal grand jury in California has indicted British citizen Ryan Cleary in connection with a hacking campaign last year that hit Sony Pictures and other companies.
The indictment was filed Tuesday in district court in Los Angeles. Authorities allege he ran a botnet used to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks against Websites as part of a campaign by Lulz Security (LulzSec). LulzSec appeared on law enforcement's radar in 2011 after a number of high-profile attacks targeting companies such as SONY Entertainment and the CIA. The group also publicized its operations on Twitter.
According to reports, the indictment alleges that Cleary hacked into Fox's website and stole confidential information belonging to people auditioning for a television show called "The X-Factor." The government also accuses him of hacking PBS's website after PBS aired a documentary he believed to be critical of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He is also charged with attacking Sony to steal information.
Cleary also faces charges in the U.K. for taking part in distributed denial-of-service attacks against Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency. He is also charged in the U.K. with distributing botnet programs to attack other websites as well.
The case against Cleary in the U.S. follows charges being brought earlier this year of six people involved in a series of attacks. Among those charged was Sabu, also known as Xavier Monsegur of New York City, who was also revealed to have been a government informant after secretly pleading guilty to last August to his involvement in attacks on HBGary and HBGary Federal as well as Sony, Fox, PBS and Infragard Members Alliance.
According to the Guardian, Cleary has been in custody at Chelmsford prison in the U.K. after he contacted Monsegur online.
Cleary faces a maximum of 25 years in prison if convicted of the charges in the United States.