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Alleged LulzSec hacker Jake Davis granted bail

A teenager appeared in court yesterday charged with hacking websites, including that of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Jake Davis (18) was arrested at his home in Shetland by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's e-crime unit.

The alleged hacker is said to use the online nickname 'Topiary' and present himself as a spokesman for hacking groups.

Teenage 'hacker' appears in court – and creates a new bestseller

By Jerome Taylor

Shielded from the flashing cameras by a pair of sunglasses and clutching a book entitled Free radicals: The secret anarchy of science, the alleged LulzSec hacker Jake Davis left court yesterday morning after a judge granted him bail.

The 18-year-old was arrested by the Metropolitan Police's eCrimes unit at his home in the Shetland Islands last Wednesday. He has been charged with five computer-related offences including the alleged participation in a disruption attack against the public website of the Serious Organised Crime Agency earlier this year.

Dressed in a grey denim shirt and black T-shirt, he appeared at Westminster magistrates' court for a bail hearing in which prosecutors alleged that he was a prominent member of the LulzSec and Anonymous hacking collectives and owned a laptop with more than 750,000 private user details.

His choice of reading – a critically acclaimed exploration of how renowned scientists often have a deep anti-authoritarian streak by the pop-science writer Michael Brooks – received an immediate publicity boost, climbing more than 1,500 places in the Amazon UK bestsellers chart to 448.

In opposing the custody application Mr Davis's defence argued that he was simply publicising other people's hacking work and did not have the ability to carry out the attacks. District judge Howard Riddle agreed to grant the teenager bail as long as he stays with his parents at their home in Spalding, Lincolnshire, abides by a curfew and stays away from the internet, including smart phones.

Prosecutors said police have accused Mr Davis, operating under the online moniker "Topiary", of gathering data from National Health Service computers, disrupting Soca and being involved in a hacking attack on the servers of News International in which a fake article was posted wrongly claiming that Rupert Murdoch had died. He is also accused of involvement in a breach claimed by LulzSec of Sony Pictures Entertainment during which hundreds of thousands of user details were stolen, some of which were posted online.

Rav Choda, for the prosecution, said police recovered a laptop at Mr Davis's home containing encrypted files that included more than 750,000 "personal details including email and log-ins". She claimed there was also a file titled "For Sale" which "contained personal details of members of the public".

"It is believed that the primary purpose of [LulzSec] is to generate notoriety and publicity through their malicious attacks on high-profile and government websites," she said. "They have compromised the personal information of hundreds of thousands of members of the public."

In calling for bail to be granted Gideon Cammerman, for the defence, said his client simply publicised hacking attacks and was a man of good character. "The picture that emerges is not of a skilled and persistent hacker," he said.

He added that Mr Davis had alerted the NHS to a hack that had compromised its servers and warned it of its security flaws.

Mr Davis, who spoke only to confirm his name and address at the hearing, will next appear at Southwark Crown Court on 30 August.

He is the second person to be charged in Britain with involvement in Anonymous and LulzSec, two loosely connected "hacktivist" collectives that have been behind a string of recent headline-grabbing attacks.

One of his alleged co-conspirators is Ryan Cleary, 19, of Wickford, Essex, who was charged last month with five offences under the Criminal Law and Computer Misuse Acts, including an alleged hacking attack against Soca's website.

Prosecutors claim Mr Cleary was having an online conversation with Mr Davis when his home was raided.

Further arrests have been made against alleged members of Anonymous and LulzSec in the US, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Turkey.

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