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Britons face LulzSec hack charges

Two Britons accused of major computer hacking plots are facing prosecution on both sides of the Atlantic.

Scotland Yard and the FBI simultaneously launched separate court proceedings against alleged members of online anarchists LulzSec.

British officers said the decision to charge Ryan Mark Ackroyd, 25, of Oak Road, Mexborough, Doncaster, and a 17-year-old youth from south London was "completely unrelated" to actions in America. Ackroyd and another Briton, Jake Davis, were named in prosecution papers in New York just hours earlier.

The FBI also accused an Irish county councillor's son of tapping into a conference call the agency had with a string of international agencies investigating an international hacking ring. Donncha O'Cearrbhail, whose online name is "palladium", faces up to 15 years jail if found guilty of recording the transatlantic briefing on investigations into the Anonymous outfit and cyber crime. A second Irish student, Darren Martyn, 25, from Galway, with the hacker name "pwnsauce", has also been named on the charge sheet published by the US Attorney's office.

The Metropolitan Police has now charged four suspects - including Davis, 18 - over the alleged hacking of websites including the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Ackroyd and the 17-year-old are accused by British prosecutors of two counts of conspiracy to "do an unauthorised act with intent to impair or with recklessness impairing of an operation of a computer", the force said. Ackroyd will appear on bail at Westminster Magistrates' Court on March 16 while the 17-year-old will appear at West London Youth Court on March 13. Davis, 18, and Ryan Cleary, 19, appeared in court last autumn charged with similar offences.

The American charges were laid out in court papers unsealed in federal court in New York as authorities said that a sixth person, Hector Xavier Monsegur, of New York, had already pleaded guilty.

The FBI court papers said the offence by O'Cearrbhail took place in January. O'Cearrbhail, 19, from Birr, Co Offaly, was one of two men arrested last September after the Fine Gael website was shut down following a denial of service attack in January 2011. The FBI papers added that Ackroyd, Davis, from Shetland, and Martyn "each are charged with two counts of computer hacking conspiracy. Each conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison".

LulzSec is a spin-off of the loosely organised hacking collective Anonymous. The group are accused by the FBI of attacking governments and corporations in Britain and around the globe.

The charges were issued in New York after its ringleader Monsegur turned against his comrades and began working as an informant, authorities said. Monsegur was portrayed as one of the world's most-wanted computer vandals known in the hacking underworld as "Sabu".

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