UK activist accused of hacking US army database
A YOUNG activist with ties to the Occupy movement has been arrested at his home in England and charged with hacking into US government systems, including NASA, the US army and the Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency in an alleged effort to steal confidential data.
Lauri Love, a former student at Glasgow University, was charged in New Jersey with allegedly infiltrating thousands of US computer systems from his home in the village of Stradishall in East Anglia.
The 28-year-old was arrested by officers from the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) after an international investigation led by the US army's criminal investigation command.
News of the arrest emerged after prosecutors filed an indictment in a court in New Jersey, accusing him and three unnamed co-conspirators, believed to be living in Australia and Sweden, with disrupting the operation and infrastructure of the US government.
Mr Love was described as a "sophisticated and prolific computer hacker with specialist knowledge in gaining access to the computer networks of large organisations, including government agencies".
He is understood to have studied physics, maths and computing at Glasgow University and was active in Scotland during the Occupy protests that erupted in cities around the world in 2011.
In one online chat described in the indictment, dated October 7, 2012, Mr Love discussed the hacking of an Army Corps database that might have yielded 400,000 email addresses, and asked a co-conspirator to "grab one email for curiosity".
In another, dated July 31, 2013, Mr Love is alleged to have said: "You have no idea how much we can f*** with the US government if we wanted to." He added: "This . . . stuff is really sensitive. It's basically every piece of information you'd need to do full identity theft on any employee or contractor."
The charge comes at a sensitive time for US-European relations, amid the stream of surveillance revelations disclosed by Edward Snowden.
It also coincides with an attempt by Tory MPs to reform the extradition treaty with America to give more protection to Britons such as Gary McKinnon, who successfully fought extradition to the US after a 10-year legal battle.
US attorney Paul Fishman, who announced the charges, said: "As part of their alleged scheme, they stole military data and personal identifying information belonging to servicemen and women. Such conduct endangers the security of our country and is an affront to those who serve."
Mr Love, who has not been charged in the UK, has been released on bail until February.
Andy Archibald, spokesman for the NCA, said: "This arrest is the culmination of close joint-working by the NCA, Police Scotland and our international partners.
"Cybercriminals should be aware that no matter where in the world you commit cybercrime, you can and will be identified and held accountable for your actions." (© Independent News Service)