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5 Arrested in U.K. for WikiLeaks Cyberattacks

British police have finally caught up with some alleged members of Anonymous, the loosely affiliated online group of cyber activists who are thought to have carried out a spate of attacks late last year on the websites of companies perceived to be enemies of WikiLeaks.

Five people from across the U.K. were arrested Thursday on suspicion of helping carry out those attacks.

British daily The Guardian reports that the arrests took place in the West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and London.

Three teenagers, aged 15, 16 and 19, were arrested in a series of coordinated raids at 7a.m. along with two men aged 20 and 26. All five are being held in custody at local police stations.

The arrests come on the heels of several distributed denial of service cyberattacks on the websites of companies like Mastercard and PayPal, both of whom denied WikiLeaks the right to use their services after the anti-secrecy group began publishing U.S. diplomatic cables last year.

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The British roundup of alleged members of Anonymous, which may have as many as 1,000 self-reported members online from countries around the world, were part of a police probe into the group carried out together with law enforcement agencies in Europe and the U.S., the Associated Press reports.

Dutch police have arrested at least two people for being connected to Anonymous attacks, the Guardian reports, including a 16-year-old from The Hague.

Recently, Anonymous has turned its attention to supporting the political uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, temporarily disabling access to 10 Tunisian government websites and four Egyptian government sites, the Guardian reports.

Anonymous says the cyber attacks are in retaliation for government censorship in both countries.

People convicted of computer misuse offenses in the U.K. face up to 10 years in jail and a $7,984 fine.

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.