UK police arrest Anonymous spokesman 'Topiary'

Another 17-year-old male is being questioned but has not been arrested

U.K. police said Wednesday they are questioning two more teenage Anonymous suspects, one of whom they identified as "Topiary," who is a spokesman for the group. Topiary's may be the most significant arrest of any Anonymous suspect so far.

Topiary's real name was not released, but police said the 19-year-old was arrested at a residential address in the Shetland Islands, a group of remote islands northeast of the U.K. mainland known for its oil deposits. He is being transported to a police station in central London, police said.

A 17-year-old man is also being interviewed, although he has not been arrested. Police are also searching a residence in Lincolnshire.

Topiary describes himself on his Twitter channel as "Simple prankster turned swank garden hedge. Worked with Anonymous, LulzSec, and other such paragons of intense cyber victory. You are free." His last post dates from Friday, when he wrote, "You cannot arrest an idea."

LulzSec, which is short for Lulz Security, is a group aligned with Anonymous that has also conducted denial-of-service attacks against websites and stolen data in numerous ongoing campaigns targeted at organizations, companies and government agencies.

Anonymous' latest campaign has been to encourage people to cancel their PayPal accounts. PayPal, which is part of eBay, has been consistently targeted by the groups for cutting off services to WikiLeaks, which used the service to accept donations. Other targets included Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and Bank of America.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had arrested 14 people suspected of conducting distributed denial-of-service attacks against PayPal in December 2010. They each were charged with conspiring to and intentionally causing damage to a protected computer.

The U.K.'s Police Central e-Crime Unit also arrested a 16-year-old last week on suspicion of violating the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

However, it remains to be seen if the spate of arrests will stop the hacking activity of the groups, which appear to be widely dispersed around the world and composed of youths.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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Jeremy Kirk

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