'Hack' youth could face extradition

A British teenager suspected of masterminding a global computer hacking plot from his bedroom could face a fight against extradition to the US.





Ryan Cleary was arrested at his detached family home in Essex today as part of a Scotland Yard and FBI probe into LulzSec, a group claiming responsibility for hacking attempts on the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, the US Senate and the CIA.



Neighbours who witnessed the dawn police swoop spoke of their shock as the "very bright" 19-year-old university student was questioned.



Detectives believe Cleary was a "major player" with LulzSec, which has also claimed security breaches at games firms Nintendo and Sony.



As American authorities were kept closely informed over the "pre-planned intelligence-led operation", lawyers said US prosecutors may demand he faces justice across the Atlantic.



Mark Spragg, an extradition lawyer at London-based firm Keystone Law, said: "If the charges on which he was arrested would result in a sentence in excess of 12 months, then potentially it would constitute an extradition offence."



LulzSec is said to have established itself as a formidable splinter group to Anonymous, the hacking group embroiled in the WikiLeaks fallout.



The group was believed to have initially targeted only US broadcasters, including PBS and Fox, and gaming firms.



But the Twitter page LulzSec recently declared its intention to break into government websites and leak confidential documents.



Neighbours of Cleary's family bungalow in Wickford, described him as a "well presented young man".



Dorothy Rounce said she was woken by banging from police officers arresting Cleary in the early hours of this morning.



Her husband, James Rounce, added: "They moved in about 10 years ago and have been pleasant neighbours.



"I think he had been away at university and had come back for the holidays or because he had finished his exams.



"You could tell he was very bright just from the way he spoke and presented himself.



"I knew he was into computers because we would often take in parcels for him and when I asked about them his mother said he was working from home and it was something to do with IT."



Soca, the UK national law enforcement unit dubbed the British FBI, was forced to temporarily take its website off-line yesterday after LulzSec bombarded it with traffic to stop other users accessing it.



Security sources were keen to underline that no confidential information was surrendered.



Cleary was arrested by officers from Scotland Yard's specialist e-crime unit. He was being questioned at a central London station under the Computer Misuse Act and Fraud Act.



A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and distributed denial of service attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group.



"Searches at a residential address in Wickford, Essex, following the arrest last night have led to the examination of a significant amount of material. These forensic examinations remain ongoing."



The Met and Essex Police were working "in co-operation" with the FBI, the spokesman said.



Claims that LulzSec had stolen the entire 2011 UK census database were denied by both the group and security sources.



LulzSec tweeted: "That wasn't us - don't believe fake LulzSec releases unless we put out a tweet first."



And later LulzSec tweeted: "Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it's all over now ... wait ... we're all still here! Which poor bastard did they take down?"



No US arrests have been announced in relation to LulzSec or Anonymous.



LulzSec has been known for several weeks to have been a subject of concern among US authorities.



Steven Chabinsky, the FBI's deputy assistant director, told the Financial Times last week that LulzSec and Anonymous were avoiding prosecution by using the likes of Twitter to draw supporters under an anonymous guise.



The FBI is placing "a lot of emphasis and focus on Anonymous and other groups that would be like them, through co-ordinated transnational efforts," he added.



Anonymous came to prominence last year when it launched digital assaults against MasterCard, PayPal and other businesses that stopped working with WikiLeaks.



The arrest of a Briton in relation to hacking attempts in the US will prompt comparisons with Gary McKinnon.



McKinnon, 45, who is wanted in the US, faces 60 years behind bars for hacking into Pentagon and Nasa computers between February 2001 and March 2002 while searching for evidence of "little green men".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Life and Style
Stepping back in time: The Robshaws endured the privations of the 1950s
food + drinkNew BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain
News
Google celebrates St David's Day 2015
newsWales' patron saint is believed to have lived in the 6th century
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?