19-year-old Ryan Cleary, widely rumored to be a member of the hacker outfit LulzSec, was charged with several offenses by British police Wednesday.
One of the charges relates to bringing down the website of Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency -- the U.K.'s FBI equivalent -- using a flood of traffic hits, in what is known as a "distributed denial of service" attack.
The police did not mention the hacker group Lulz by name, though the notorious outfit -- responsible for attacks on sites ranging from Sony and Sega to the CIA -- has been widely connected to Clearly.
LulzSec's Twitter feed, the main source of information about the anonymous group, remained silent Wednesday following the charges But LulzSec denied the connection to Cleary in a Tweet on its Twitter feed Tuesday morning.
"Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it's all over now ... wait ... we're all still here! Which poor bastard did they take down?" LulzSec wrote. The group was more explicit later in the day: "Clearly the UK police are so desperate to catch us that they've gone and arrested someone who is, at best, mildly associated with us. Lame."
Cleary was arrested at his home in Essex on Monday night in a joint operation by the Essex Police, the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) and the FBI.
Searches at the teen's home led to the examination of a significant amount of material, the Police said Tuesday. They confirmed that a computer seized in the operation will be examined for data connecting the 19-year-old to a string of attacks on Sony Websites.
The charges follow an investigation into network intrusions and hack attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same group, the Metropolitan police said in a statement following the arrest.
LulzSec recently broke into mainstream consciousness after a string of attacks on governments and companies alike. The outfit emphasizes that it does not hack for financial profit and its main motivation is simply “to have fun by causing mayhem.”
In a statement released over the weekend, LulzSec pledged to unite with its sister collective Anonymous in a new cybercampaign against the world’s governments. Codenamed Operation Anti-Security, the hack campaign will target "corruption" and any government websites or systems "crosses their path" -- including banks and other "high-ranking establishments."
Anonymous is a group of online activists that has claimed responsibility for attacking companies online such as Visa, MasterCard and PayPal over their severing of ties with WikiLeaks following that group's release of troves of sensitive documents. Anonymous also led a campaign against the Church of Scientology.
Anonymous and similar hacker organizations are notable for their leaderless, diffuse construction that maximizes secrecy but can lead to mixed or unclear messages.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.