PARIS – Interpol said Tuesday that 25 suspected members of the loose-knit Anonymous hacker movement have been arrested in a sweep across Europe and South America.
The international police agency said in a statement that the arrests in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain were carried out by national law enforcement officers working under the support of Interpol’s Latin American Working Group of Experts on Information Technology Crime.
The suspects, aged between 17 and 40, are suspected of planning coordinated cyberattacks against institutions including Colombia’s defense ministry and presidential websites, Chile’s Endesa electricity company and national library, as well as other targets.
The arrests followed an ongoing investigation begun in mid-February which also led to the seizure of 250 items of IT equipment and mobile phones in searches of 40 premises in 15 cities, Interpol said.
Interpol is headquartered in Lyon, France. The organization has no powers of arrest or investigation but it helps police forces around the world work together, facilitating intelligence sharing.
Anonymous, whose genesis can be traced back to a popular U.S. image messaging board, has become increasingly politicized amid a global clampdown on music piracy and the international controversy over the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks, with which many of its supporters identify.
Authorities in Europe, North America and elsewhere have made dozens of arrests, and Anonymous has increasingly attacked law enforcement, military and intelligence-linked targets in retaliation.