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U.K. police say they've arrested LulzSec's 'Topiary'

Scotland Yard says it has arrested the "spokesman" for the hacking groups Anonymous and LulzSec.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
2 min read

The British Metropolitan Police said today that they have arrested a 19-year-old who uses the nickname "Topiary" and is believed to be a key member of the LulzSec hacking group.

"The man arrested is believed to be linked to an ongoing international investigation into the criminal activity of the so-called 'hacktivist' groups Anonymous and LulzSec, and uses the online nickname 'Topiary,' which is presented as the spokesperson for the groups," Scotland Yard said in a statement. "He was arrested at a residential address in the Shetland Islands and is currently being transported to a police station in central London. A search is ongoing at the address."

However, the Daily Tech reports that chat logs indicate that the real Topiary may have been using another person's identity and that police may have arrested the wrong person.

Police are also searching a home in Lincolnshire and interviewing a 17-year-old, but that teen has not been arrested, the statement said.

Topiary was believed to have handled LulzSec's Twitter feed, at least for a while. Topiary's personal Twitter account has been quiet since last Thursday; the final message being "You cannot arrest an idea."

As part of an international investigation into the hacking activities, authorities arrested 16 people in the United States last week, four in The Netherlands and a 16-year-old in London who reportedly used the handle "Tflow" and was believed to be part of LulzSec. Many of the defendants were accused of participating in the distributed denial-of-service attacks against PayPal late last year after PayPal suspended the account of whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

Anonymous and LulzSec, who have targeted numerous government and corporate sites (see list of recent attacks), have organized a boycott of PayPal as a result of the arrests. It's unclear how many people have closed their PayPal accounts. PayPal stock was down more than 1.8 percent today.

Updated July 28 at noon PT with link to report that says chat logs indicate police may have been duped into arresting someone who is not the person they were after and July 27 at 12:15 p.m. PT with some background on Topiary and last tweet.