Police in Spain and three South American countries have arrested 25 suspected members of the Anonymous hacking group on accusations of defacing government and corporate websites, officials said Tuesday.
Spanish authorities, along with police in Argentina, Chile and Colombia carried out the arrests as part of Interpol’s Operation Unmask, seizing 250 items of computer equipment and cellphones in raids on 40 premises in 15 cities, the Agence France Presse reported.
Those arrested are aged between 17 and 40. In a statement, Interpol said the group was suspected of being behind a number of cyber-attacks, including on the websites of Colombia’s Ministry of Defence and president, as well on the Chilean Endesa electricity company and the country’s National Library.
“This operation shows that crime in the virtual world does have real consequences for those involved, and the Internet cannot be seen as a safe haven for criminal activity,” Bernd Rossbach, Interpol’s acting director of police services said.
Spanish authorities also accused one of four suspects arrested in Madrid and Malaga of releasing personal information about police officers and bodyguards protecting Spain’s royal family and prime minister, according to Reuters.
The country’s interior ministry said that the alleged manager of Anonymous’ computer operations in Spain and Latin America had been picked up, the BBC reported.
Anonymous is a loosely organized international network of online activists suspected of the coordinated computer hacking of institutions, multinationals and government organizations around the globe.
On Monday the group revealed that it had collaborated with Wikileaks for the first time, turning five million previously hacked emails from “global intelligence” firm Stratfor over to the Internet whistle-blowing outfit for publication online.