The FBI has arrested 16 people suspected of being members of the Anonymous hacktivist group after a series of raids in locations ranging from Massachusetts to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Fourteen of the suspects are being held in relation to the December 2010 attacks on PayPal, while two are being held for attacks on AT&T and Infraguard. The charges include conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer.
The FBI said that a related arrest was made by authorities in the UK, and that police in the Netherlands picked up a further four suspects.
The arrests came as Anonymous and its loose affiliate LulzSec resumed their AntiSec hacking campaign, turning their attention to the News of the World scandal. The most recent incident saw the web site of The Sun replaced with a phoney article about the death of Rupert Murdoch.
Anonymous and LulzSec have also been in the crosshairs of law enforcement agencies in Italy.
News of the US raids was greeted with little sympathy in the online security community.
"Whatever you may think of their politics, the group committed crimes and their members should be arrested and prosecuted," said security and cryptography expert Bruce Schneier.
"I just hope we don't get a media flurry about how they were some sort of cyber super criminals. Near as I can tell, they were just garden variety hackers who were lucky and caught a media wave."
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