Teenage hacking suspect 'is autistic'

A TEENAGER accused of carrying out a hacking attack against the website of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, since his arrest, a court has heard.

Ryan Cleary, 19, from Wickford, Essex, was granted bail yesterday but prosecutors objected, meaning he will remain in custody until tomorrow when an appeal will be heard.

The case has parallels to that of Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon, who also has Asperger's. He is fighting extradition to America over allegations of hacking into US military computers. He admits breaking into systems including those of Nasa and the Pentagon but says he was seeking evidence of UFOs.

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Yesterday, district judge Nicholas Evans at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court, heard Cleary's condition was diagnosed by a psychologist.

Cleary did not enter any plea to five offences under the Criminal Law and Computer Misuse Act with which he has been charged.

His bail appeal will be heard at Southwark Crown Court, where the case is also due for a plea and case management hearing on 30 August.

Cleary was arrested at his family home on Monday as part of a Scotland Yard and FBI probe into LulzSec, a group which claims responsibility for hacking attempts on Soca, the US Senate and the CIA.

He is charged with conspiring with other people on or before 20 June to create a remotely controlled network of zombie computers, known as a "botnet", to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, where websites are flooded with traffic to make them crash.

He is also alleged to have carried out similar attacks against the British Phonographic Industry's website on 29 October last year and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry site.