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U.K. Police Charge 22 Year Old in ‘Anonymous’ Hacking Probe

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- A 22-year-old man was charged with computer offenses by U.K. police investigating attacks on companies carried out by the hacking group Anonymous.

Peter David Gibson, a student from Hartlepool, England, was charged with a conspiracy to impair the operation of a computer or hinder access to a program or data, the Metropolitan Police in London said today in a statement. Gibson had been arrested along with five others by officers in connection with so-called denial of service attacks against several companies, the police said.

Anonymous is alleged to have targeted companies including EBay Inc., Sony Corp. and Visa Inc. Denial-of-service attacks flood computer networks with requests for information until they shut down.

Police declined to give out information on how to contact Gibson or his attorney.

Anonymous, which is made up of hundreds of members around the world, is said to have targeted companies hostile to Wikileaks, an organization which posts confidential documents on the web. EBay’s Paypal unit suspended the Wikileaks account, while Visa Europe Ltd. stopped payments to the site.

Authorities in several countries have begun investigations into Anonymous and its members. Prosecutors in the U.S. have arrested and charged 14 people in connection to the attacks.

Spanish police arrested three suspected members of Anonymous in June. The group hacked the websites of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain’s second-biggest bank, and Enel SpA, the Italian owner of Spanish power company Endesa SA, Spanish police said.

U.K. police are also investigating another hacking group, LulzSec, which is accused of carrying out denial of service attacks on the Serious Organised Crime Agency. A teenager from the Shetland Islands in Scotland was arrested in July and later charged with computer offenses, including creating a fake news story claiming News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch had died.

To contact the reporter for this story: Kit Chellel in London cchellel@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.

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