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LulzSec spokesperson in custody, say UK police

The man arrested by British police, and known as "Topiary" cleared out his messages on Twitter, save for this one he left behind.

One of the key members and spokesperson of LulzSec, which is allied with the Anonymous group of hackers, was arrested Wednesday.

Police arrested a man who goes by the name "Topiary" online; he was arrested in Scotland's Shetland Islands.

Topiary, who often served as an online spokesman for the group, also gave several high-profile interviews in recent weeks, and downplayed concerns about being caught.

"Worrying is for fools!" he told Gawker's Adrian Chen last month.

He reiterated that attitude in an interview published last week in Salon, which asked if he was concerned he might get "pinched by the cops." Topiary replied: "The short answer to that is no, the long answer is that I've received so many threats of being caught over the past 8 months (almost every day) that it doesn't affect me at all."

The "Lulz" in LulzSec's name is Internet speak for laughs, something the group of supposedly six members, has emphasized from its hack of PBS to Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper website last week, when it posted a fake page with a story about Murdoch being found dead.

Most thought LulzSec was gone from the scene when it said last month it was stepping back to work with Anonymous in efforts to hack government and corporate websites the group deems corrupt. The joint effort is known as "AntiSec," or anti-security.

"The arrest of 'Topiary' is important as it sends a strong message to other hackers or would-be hackers," Chester Wisniewski, a security researcher with Sophos, told Reuters.

"While many have found the antics of Lulz Security entertaining, breaking into computers and stealing the personal details of innocent people is a serious crime."

Law enforcement in the U.S. and globally has intensified efforts to arrest those believed to be connected to LulzSec and Anonymous, and to various hacks and denial-of-service efforts that brought down government and corporate websites.

In the U.S. last week, 16 people were arrested on charges they were involved in major cyber attacks, with 14 of the 16 alleged to have helped bring down the PayPal website last December as retribution for PayPal's dropping of WikiLeaks' donation account.

In Britain, the Metropolitan Police Service’s Police Central e-Crime Unit posted this news release about the arrest of Topiary — the name used on his Twitter account, saying, in part:

The man arrested is believed to be linked to an ongoing international investigation in to 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.

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.

A residential address in Lincolnshire is also being searched. A 17-year-old male is being interviewed under caution in connection with the inquiry. He has not been arrested.

Topiary's Twitter feed had been full of tweets, or messages, in recent months about hacking activities. But on Wednesday, the account looked cleared out, with just one tweet remaining: "You cannot arrest an idea," posted July 21, and something members of Anonymous and LulzSec have been saying online since last week's arrests in the U.S.

Other arrests were also made last week by the Metropolitan Police Service and the Dutch National Police Agency in connection with alleged cyber-related crimes.

Last Friday, Dutch prosecutors said four suspects were released from custody after confessing to infiltrating websites and publishing confidential information.

And last month, British police arrested and charged Ryan Cleary, 19, for attacking the website of Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) and sites owned by the British Phonographic Industry and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Cleary was released on bail.

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