A 19-year-old man has been arrested in the U.K. after an investigation into hacker attacks on "a number of international business and intelligence agencies," police said Tuesday.
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Police would not say whether the man was believed to be linked to either the Anonymous or Lulz Security hacking collectives, which have claimed responsibility for a string of high-profile attacks on targets such as the CIA web page, the U.S. Senate computer system and the Sony PlayStation Network.
However, theLondon-based Metropolitan Police did say in a statement on its website that it had been working in cooperation with the FBI on the case, suggesting a significant U.S. connection.
Police said that the teenager was arrested Monday night "on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act and Fraud Act offences."
"The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group," the statement said.
Jenny Shearer, of the FBI’s national press office, said the bureau had no comment to make on the case.
The teenager's mother told BBC Radio Essex that her son had been arrested at 3:30 a.m. local time Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET).
She told the BBC that the teen had been obsessed with computers since the age of 12, saying "computers were his world."
The BBC said the suspect had been identified by local people as Ryan Cleary. While British law enforcement does not provide names of those arrested, journalists are not prevented from publishing the names discovered through sources.
In May, Anonymous warned its members that a former IRC-operator and Anon "helper" identified as Ryan Cleary lead a DDoS attack on the servers that run collective's communication forums, and accused Cleary of stealing passwords.
"He decided that he didn't like the leaderless command structure that AnonOps Network Admins use. So he organised a coup d'etat," read the original message to Anon members warning them to stay away from the compromised forums.
LulzSec may have also had a forum on the servers Cleary reportedly ran.
Glorious leader arrested?
In a Twitter message at 9:30 a.m. ET, @LulzSec, posted a message saying, "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?"
It later tweeted, "hey, if someone out there hacked the UK government in the name of #AntiSec, well done sirs!"
Another Twitter user, @anonymouSabu, claimed "all members of lulzsec are safe. ryan Clearly has little to do with lulzsec besides running irc.lulzsec.org. Media needs to fix story."
Previously, it was unclear whether RyanCleary was a real name or a pseudonym.
A posting dated May 15 on the Chronicle.su blog, which describes itself as "The Anonymous Institute of Political Science and Social Studies," wrote jokingly about Cleary, saying he had joined Anonymous, playing "the part of a young, resourceful hacker with the realistic fault of a hot temper."
"His unnatural abilities, shadowy motives, and god-like ability to act with complete impunity has helped him ride the wave of discontent to the helm of Anonymous," it added. "Who is 'Ryan Cleary'? Is he from Sony? Is he a criminal from Eastern Europe? Is he an FBI agent?"
Police said the suspect, who they refused to name, was taken to a central London police station, where "he currently remains in custody for questioning."
They said searches of a home in Wickford, Essex, not far from London, had led to the examination of "a significant amount of material" and "forensic examinations remain ongoing."
A police spokesman, who asked not to be named in line with standard U.K. practice, told msnbc.com that officers were questioning the man about "any possible links" to the hacker attacks on the CIA and PlayStation.
"They are obviously a couple [of attacks] that they [the officers] will be having a look at. We have to see where it goes," the police spokesman said.
"They are confident it is a significant arrest. As to whether this individual is linked to any group, that still has to be established," he added.
The spokesman said there was "nothing to suggest" further arrests would be made, but added "you never know with these sorts of things."
He said he was unaware if any request for the suspect to be extradited to the U.S. had been made or was likely.
Lulz has boasted of successfully hacking Sony in addition to subsequent attacks on the CIA web page and the U.S. Senate computer system.
Hackers call for 'war'
The hackers recently called for "war" on governments that control the Internet.
Lulz has also taken credit for hacking into Sony Corp. — where more than 100 million user accounts were compromised — and defacing the PBS website after the U.S. public television station aired a documentary seen as critical of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The hackers also say they are responsible for attacks on the CIA website and the U.S. Senate computer system.
Most recently, Lulz said it had compromised the security of more than 1,000 accounts of an FBI partner organization and brought down the website of Britain's FBI equivalent, the Serious Organized Crime Agency.
On Monday, Lulz Security issued a statement calling for a united hacker effort against governments and organizations that control the Internet.
The group said it was teaming with fellow hacker collective Anonymous, and encouraged others to fight corruption and attack any government or agency that "crosses their path" including banks and other "high-ranking establishments."
Anonymous is a group of online activists that has claimed responsibility for attacking companies online such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal over their severing of ties with WikiLeaks following that group's release of troves of sensitive documents. Anonymous also led a campaign against the Church of Scientology.
Anonymous and similar hacker organizations are notable for their leaderless, diffuse construction that maximizes secrecy but can lead to mixed or unclear messages.
The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.