The US has brought criminal charges against 13 suspected members of the hacking group Anonymous on Thursday for allegedly attacking government, credit card and lobbying websites in a campaign in support of internet file-sharing.
A grand jury indictment of the 13 people was filed in US district court in Alexandria, Virginia, charging them with conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to protected computers as part of Anonymous' Operation Payback.
The international group known as Anonymous has been in frequent battle with US authorities, not only over file-sharing but also other ideological causes such as the willingness of financial institutions to process donations for the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
The hackers launched Operation Payback in retaliation for the 2010 shutdown of Pirate Bay, a Swedish internet service that allowed users to share files such as films and music, according to Thursday's indictment.
"This will be a calm, co-ordinated display of blood. We will not be merciful," said one set of instructions for the attacks quoted in the indictment.
Other websites targeted were those of the Library of Congress, Bank of America, Visa and MasterCard, the Justice Department said.
Those charged ranged in age from 21 to 65 and lived in 13 different US states.
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