Ryan Cleary, the accused member of a former Anonymous hacktivist offshoot known as LulzSec, has been indicted in Los Angeles on federal hacking charges for his alleged role in infiltrating the networks of Fox, PBS and Sony, according to reports.
According to an indictment unsealed Wednesday, Cleary and unnamed cohorts last year purged the personal information of hundreds of thousands of users from the systems of Fox Entertainment Group and Sony Pictures, and defaced the website of PBS to post a fake news story that rapper Tupac Shakur was alive. At the time, LulzSec said it targeted Sony because the company was pursuing legal action against an alleged copyright violator, and it went after PBS because the network ran an unfair documentary about WikiLeaks.
The indictment charges Cleary with one count of conspiracy and two counts of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. He faces up to 25 years in prison.
Cleary, now 20, of the U.K. was arrested in his home country in the weeks after the incidents. He was released on bail, awaiting trial, when in April he was sent back to prison for breaching his conditions.
Authorities said he had been communicating with fellow LulzSec ringleader-turned-FBI informant Hector Monsegur, who was best known as “Sabu.” Cleary had been banned from using the internet, but was emailing with Monsegur, obviously unaware that he had flipped.
Cleary is next expected to appear in court on June 25, reports said. Prosecutors in the United States plan to let the U.K. case go forward before deciding whether to extradite him to face charges here.
In April, another member of LulzSec, Cody Kretsinger, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the Sony Pictures incident after originally denying the charges.