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Fourteen people have been arrested as part of an ongoing operation targeting the notorious hacking collective known as Anonymous, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI said Tuesday.
The individuals were arrested by FBI agents on charges related to their alleged involvement in a cyberattack on PayPal’s website, which has been claimed by the Anonymous group.
Two additional people were arrested in the United States Tuesday and five in Europe for alleged cybercrimes, the Justice Department said in a statement.
The U.S. arrests took place in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio.
Additionally, authorities said they had executed more than 35 search warrants throughout in the United States, “as part of an ongoing investigation into coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations,” the statement read.
FBI agents spread out to about six locations on Long Island, in Brooklyn and in the Bronx, where they seized computers and other records, according to a federal government official, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the investigation.
In the past, Anonymous has launched attacks on websites belonging to the Church of Scientology, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.
However, the hacker collective vaulted to worldwide fame in December, when it disabled or disrupted the websites of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal in what the group said was retaliation for the companies’ cutting ties to the WikiLeaks website following the arrest of Julian Assange.
Assange founded WikiLeaks, which facilitates the release of secret information. He is currently out on bail in England and is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he faces sex crime charges.
In addition, Anonymous is suspected of being linked to cyberattacks against Sony, Fox News, the Arizona Department of Corrections and a well-known consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, among others.
The group is implicated in denial-of-service attacks, in which large amounts of traffic are directed to a website, overloading it and, in effect, shutting it down.
Thanks to CNN Justice for this breaking story.