Back in 2010, hackers associated with Anonymous, the mysterious hacker-activist collective, attacked online payment service PayPal for suspending accounts associated with WikiLeaks. The whistleblower organization that first caught the world’s attention earlier that year, WikiLeaks did so by publishing a massive amount of secret government documents. As a response to PayPal’s move, 13 Anonymous hackers launched DDoS attacks on PayPal.
In the story’s latest twist, those hackers entered guilty pleas in a California federal court.
Of the 13 who entered pleas, 10 pleaded guilty to a felony charge, while the other three accepted misdemeanor charges. The Anonymous hackers who pleaded to a felony will be able to have that charge lessened to a misdemeanor next year, as long as they don’t violate their agreement, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Though many are arguably not shedding any tears for the hackers, one important figure hoped that they would receive a lighter sentence: Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, which owns PayPal.
“I can understand that the protesters were upset by PayPal’s actions and felt that they were simply participating in an online demonstration of their frustration,” Omidyar said. “That is their right, and I support freedom of expression, even when it’s my own company that is the target.”
Omidyar recently made news for the forthcoming launch of a new media venture, for which he hired Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian columnist who broke the story of NSA documents leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
At this point, the hackers have been released on bail, and their sentencing hearings are scheduled for late 2014.