Hack charge teenager has Asperger's
A teenager accused of carrying out a hacking attack against the website of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, since his arrest, a court has heard.
Ryan Cleary, 19, of South Beech Avenue, Wickford, Essex, was granted bail but prosecutors immediately objected, meaning that he will remain in custody until Monday when an appeal will be heard.
The case draws parallels with that of Gary McKinnon, who also has Asperger's, and is fighting extradition to America over allegations of hacking into US military computers. He admits breaking into systems including those of Nasa and the Pentagon but says he was seeking UFO evidence.
District judge Nicholas Evans, sitting at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, heard that Cleary's condition was diagnosed by a psychologist.
Cleary did not enter any plea to the five offences under the Criminal Law and Computer Misuse Act with which he is charged. His bail appeal will be heard at Southwark Crown Court, where the case is also due for a plea and case management hearing on August 30.
Cleary was arrested at his family home on Monday as part of a Scotland Yard and FBI probe into LulzSec, a group which claims responsibility for hacking attempts on Soca, the US Senate and the CIA.
He is charged with conspiring with other people on or before June 20 to create a remotely controlled network of zombie computers, known as a "botnet", to carry out distributed denial of service attacks, where websites are flooded with traffic to make them crash. He is also alleged to have carried out similar attacks against the British Phonographic Industry's website on October 29 last year and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's website on or before June 20.
Ben Cooper, defending Cleary, said that, given the recent diagnosis of Asperger's, he was concerned that his client would have to remain in custody over the weekend.
The court heard that Cleary is of high intelligence but is agoraphobic and has difficulty interacting with other people. But Mr Cooper's request to the prosecution to reconsider the bail appeal was denied.
Cleary, wearing a plain white T-shirt, spoke only to confirm his name and to say that he understood the proceedings. His mother Rita watched from the public gallery. She made no comment as she left court.