Hacker wanted for questioning over Facebook cyber attack
Published 23/06/2011 | 08:50
Ryan Cleary, a UK teenager suspected of masterminding an international computer hacking ring, is wanted for questioning in the US over a cyber attack on the Facebook website.
FBI investigators who had been tracking the activities of a hacking group called LulzSec believe Mr Cleary, 19, might have targeted the social networking site which has 500 million users around the world.
He is also suspected of involvement in attacks on the computer systems of the CIA, the US Senate and Sony.
Last night Mr Cleary was charged with a string of cyber attacks on UK-based websites, but police sources said the investigation into attacks on foreign networks was “ongoing”.
Facebook refused to be drawn on whether anyone had managed to hack into its website or access any of its users’ profiles, many of which contain private information which can only be seen by selected friends.
A spokesman for the California-based firm said it had a regular “dialogue” with the FBI but “would not comment on individual cases”.
Asked whether Facebook had been successfully hacked by anyone, the spokesman said: “We just don’t comment on things like this and we don’t go into details.”
The multi-billion dollar social networking site has had to increase security recently to deal with an increasing number of attempted attacks by hackers.
Even if Mr Cleary is tried and convicted of crimes in the UK, he could still face extradition to the US, as the FBI, which was the driving force behind his arrest, want to question him themselves.
Karen Todner, the solicitor for Gary McKinnon, a hacker who has been fighting extradition to the US for six years, said she hoped the Foreign Office would have “learned lessons” from her client’s case, and that Mr Cleary would be dealt with in the UK.
Anil Rajani, an extradition law expert at IBB Solicitors, said Mr Cleary, who has a history of troubled behaviour, would have a strong case for fighting extradition on human rights grounds.
“There would appear to be medical grounds for an appeal against any attempt to extradite him. His age and his human rights under the European Convention would also be part of the argument.”
Mr Cleary, whose family say he suffers from ADHD and Emotional Behavioural Disorder, tried to hang himself when he was ten and was expelled from both his primary and secondary schools for disruptive behaviour before completing his education at a special school in Colchester.
Mr Cleary, of Wickford, Essex, was arrested at his family home on Monday in a joint operation by Scotland Yard and the FBI.
Last night he was charged with five offences under the Criminal Law Act and Computer Misuse Act, including an attack on the website of the Serious Organised Crime Agency on Monday.
He is also alleged to have attacked the website of the British Phonographic Industry, which organises the annual Brit Awards, last October and the website of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry last November.
He will appear before Westminster Magistrates Court this morning