Despite being officially indicted by US federal grand jury this week, it’s possible that British LulzSec suspect Ryan Cleary won’t have to face trial in the US after all, dependent on whether or not UK authorities choose to prosecute him on similar charges.
The 20-year-old Cleary has been linked to the hacking collective known as LulzSec, and faces up to 25 years in jail if found guilty on the charges brought earlier this week of one count of conspiracy and two counts of unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. The computers in question belong to Fox Entertainment Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment, PBS, an online gaming website and the British Serious Organized Crime Agency, all of whom Cleary is accused of hacking in concert with unnamed co-conspirators. At the time of the indictment being issued, the FBI’s Laura Eimiller described him as “a skilled hacker” who “controlled his own botnet [and] employed sophisticated methods [and whose] broad geographic scope affected a large number of businesses and individuals.”
Complicating possible extradition is that Cleary is already imprisoned in the UK, awaiting trial for those very same crimes (He is due in court in Britain on June 25). According to a statement released by Cleary’s attorney, Karen Todner of Kaim Todner solicitors, however, the US hasn’t even asked for Cleary to be brought to America. “Mr Cleary has been charged with various offences against the Misuse of Computers Act on an indictment pending before Southwark Crown Court. Overnight we learned that Mr Cleary is also now subject to an indictment in California with exactly the same charges,” Ms. Todner explained. “We understand that the US Prosecutor has stated that should Mr. Cleary be dealt with by the UK courts in respect of these charges then the US will not seek Mr. Cleary’s extradition.”
The statement goes on to state that “As yet no decisions have been made as to which charges Mr Cleary will deny or accept but we can state now that should any application be made for Mr Cleary’s extradition then it will be fiercely contested. Mr Cleary suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and is on the autistic spectrum and extradition to the United States is totally undesirable.” Moreover, Ms. Todner asks that the UK Government review its US Extradition Treaty in light of “the evidence of internet and computer cases coming through the courts” such as this one.
Oddly enough, while Cleary’s fellow hackers have been left unidentified in the American indictment, two of his three co-conspirators have already been named in the UK (The third has been left anonymous due to his being under 18; the others have been identified as Jake Davis, 18, and Ryan Ackroyd, 25). The British charges against the four also mention hacks into the British National Health Service, security companies HBGary, Black & Berg and Infagard and, most interestingly, the CIA.