Anonymous Up to Old Tricks, Hacks U.S. Department of Justice

Paul Lilly

Hacking group takes credit for attack on U.S. Department of Justice's website.

The hactivist organization known as Anonymous is claiming it's the one responsible for infiltrating the U.S. Department of Justice's Sentencing Commission website ( ) over the weekend. This latest attack was in retaliation to the government's attempt to prosecute Aaron Swartz for illegally downloading millions of academic journals from JSTOR, an online archive and journal distribution service.

Facing the possibility of more than three decades in prison and up to $1 million in fines, Swartz decided to take his own life by hanging himself in his Brooklyn area apartment. There was no suicide note, but his suicide resonated with the Internet community, sparking outrage at the criminal justice system and prosecutorial overreach.

Anonymous posted a lengthy letter on the Sentencing Commission's website demanding that the U.S. government either reform its justice system. If not, Anonymous threatened to leak sensitive information to the public.

"Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed," part of the message read. "Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win—a twisted and distorted perversion of justice—a game where the only winning move was not to play."

Anonymous, via Twitter , also encouraged visitors to punch in a special code on the government website that would allow them to play a version of Asteroids. As visitors destroyed part of the webpage, an image of Anonymous would appear.

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