UK police arrest five in connection with WikiLeaks attacks

London police have detained five individuals ages 15 to 26 in connection with an investigation into Anoymous, a "hacktivist" group responsible for attacks on companies that suspended accounts associated with leak site WikiLeaks. The investigation is a global effort, and includes law enforcement agencies in both the US and Europe.

The Metropolitan Police Service did not indentify the accused, nor did they directly link them to the group. In the US, efforts have been stepped up to identify anyone who may have been involved in the efforts here, although so far no arrests have been made. The UK five are charged with offenses under the Computer Misuse Act, passed by Parliament in 1990.

That act made it illegal to use a computer to access or modify unauthorized content, or access such content for the purpose of committing a criminal act. UK citizens convicted under that code could face jail terms of six months to five years depending on the crime, and fines of up to 5,000 British pounds ($7,900 USD).

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Anonymous lacks any true hierarchical structure, and has called its organization a "leaderless movement." Thus, it may be difficult for law enforcement to ever fully investigate the scope of these attacks.

"All five have been taken to local police stations where they remain in custody," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. Representatives for PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard -- all victims of Anonymous' attacks -- either declined or were unavailable to comment.

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