U.S. indicts Brit Ryan Cleary for Fox, PBS hacks

Famed for allegedly targeting Fox, PBS, and Sony, the onetime U.K.-charged hacker Ryan Cleary is now facing charges in the United States.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

The British man that allegedly hacked into the Fox reality TV show "The X-Factor" and the "PBS News Hour," along with music companies and government security agencies, was indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury on conspiracy and hacking charges today, according to the Associated Press.

Ryan Cleary, 20, reportedly had ties to the well-known branch of Anonymous called LulzSec before he was arrested in London last June (although the hacktivist group denies his involvement with it). U.S. federal prosecutors said today that he worked to take down, deface, and steal personal information from Web sites, according to the Associated Press.

This isn't the first time that Cleary has come up against the courts. A separate case was filed against him in U.K. last summer. British authorities charged Cleary on five counts of computer hacking activity, including denial-of-service attacks against the Serious Organized Crime Agency, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and the British Phonographic Industry.

After being released on bail last June, Cleary was taken into custody in the U.K. in March, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. indictment alleges that Cleary hacked into Fox's Web site and allegedly stole confidential information for people trying to get auditions on "The X-Factor." He also allegedly broke into PBS's Web site after a supposedly critical documentary on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The indictment additionally says that Cleary hacked into Sony Pictures to steal registered users' information.

According to the Associated Press, if Cleary is convicted of all charges, he could get up to 25 years in prison.

In March, police carried out a sweep of arrests taking down much of LulzSec's top tier hackers. Authorities announced that five men in the U.K., Ireland, New York, and Chicago had been charged with hacking-related offenses. They also said the alleged LulzSec leader, known as Sabu, had entered a guilty plea to 12 counts of computer hacking conspiracies and other crimes. Despite the takedown, however, members of Anonymous remain active.