AMSTERDAM — National prosecutors Wednesday released some details about four Dutch citizens arrested on suspicion of involvement in cyberattacks as part of an international sweep targeting hackers.
U.S. authorities announced 14 arrests late Tuesday in connection with the loosely organized hacking group Anonymous's December attacks on Internet payment service PayPal. An additional two Americans, four Dutch and one Briton were arrested on suspicion of participating in other coordinated attacks against companies and organizations, U.S. authorities said.
Dutch prosecutors said the four suspects in the Netherlands belonged to a splinter group called AntiSec NL, which allegedly hacked the sites of dating service Pepper.nl and communications software maker Nimbuzz, among others, and boasted about it on a now-defunct Twitter account.
They were identified as males aged 17, 18, 25 and 35, each from a different Dutch city, and operating under the nicknames Ziaolin, Calimero, DutchD3V1L and Time. Police seized their computers and other equipment in raids Tuesday night.
Prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin said he could not release the real names of the suspects or their lawyers' names, or say whether they would contest any charges against them. They are still in custody and must be brought before a judge before Friday.
"Their most important purported goal was stealing and making public the private data of government services and companies," his office said in a statement.
The prosecutors said they infiltrated a chat channel used by the suspects with the help of security firm Fox-IT and were then able to identify them.
The arrests underline the decentralized nature of Anonymous, which is more a collection of like-minded individuals with varying computer skills than a single organization.
The cyberattacks on PayPal's website followed the release by WikiLeaks in November of thousands of classified State Department cables.
Anonymous members said they targeted PayPal, Visa and MasterCard after the companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
A British official said early Wednesday that a teenage suspect arrested in London was thought to be linked to an Anonymous spin-off group known as Lulz Security, or LulzSec, which has stolen mountains of data and defaced prominent media websites on both sides of the Atlantic.
The official spoke on condition that his name and position not be disclosed because he wasn't authorized to officially release the information.
In one of the two U.S. arrests unrelated to the PayPal attacks, suspect Lance Moore, 21, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was accused of exceeding his authorized access to AT&T's servers in downloading thousands of documents and applications.
According to court papers, those documents were later published by LulzSec.
Dutch technology news website Tweakers.net, which communicated with Ziaolin as recently as recently Sunday, reported that AntiSec NL viewed itself as an offshoot of LulzSec, but LulzSec may not have known of the Dutch group's existence.
On Wednesday LulzSec appeared to deny that any of its membership had been compromised, saying in a tweet that "there are six of us, and we're all still here."
LulzSec has taken responsibility for attacks on Fox News, PBS, Sony and Nintendo, among others.Comment on this story
The hackers earlier this week broke into The Sun newspaper's website and posted a bogus story claiming that media tycoon Rupert Murdoch had been found dead.
The group still says it's sitting on a cache of emails stolen from a server belonging to Murdoch's British newspaper arm, which is currently under scrutiny because one of its newspapers, the News of the World, hacked into voicemails of celebrities and crime victims.
Associated Press reporter Raphael Satter contributed to this story from London.