Ryan Cleary has Asperger's syndrome, court hears

Filed Under: Law & order

Ryan Cleary. Image source: BBCRyan Cleary, the teenager whose arrest last Monday made international headlines linking him to the notorious LulzSec hacking gang, has been diagnosed as suffering from Asperger's syndrome a court has been told.

According to a BBC news report, defence lawyer Ben Cooper told the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court that his client's condition was recently diagnosed by a psychologist.

Inevitably, parallels will be drawn with the ongoing case of Gary McKinnon, the British hacker who has been fighting extradition to the United States after breaking into computer systems belonging to NASA and the Pentagon. McKinnon also suffers from Asperger's syndrome - and his condition has been a key argument used by supporters campaigning for him to remain in the UK.

Cleary is alleged to have been involved in a distributed denial-of-service (DDos) attack on the website of SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency).

He is also alleged to have carried out similar attacks last year against websites belonging to the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Cleary, who is 19 years old, and is from Wickford, Essex, is understood to be assisting the police with their investigations.

Image credit: BBC

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4 Responses to Ryan Cleary has Asperger's syndrome, court hears

  1. Rob · 1565 days ago

    Lots of people participate in DDoS attacks hence the name (Distributed) if this guy went on a one man DoS rampage then he can expect to be arrested. But why is this guy being singled out?

    • Wile E Coyote · 1563 days ago

      Why go after Cleary? Because, as the alleged admin of the IRC relay used by LulzSec, he allegedly controlled a botnet that attacked three high profile sites. He also allegedly made the botnet available to members of LulzSec.

      Source: Met Police press statement at http://content.met.police.uk/News/Man-charged-wit...

      A one man band who allegedly controlled thousands of compromised PC's. Every single one of those PC's represented pain, frustration, and financial loss to it's owner. Not a small-time crime.

      • If the crime is that bad the owners of the infected computers have been severely victimised, then I suspect officials will at least be seeking them all out to warn them their computer is infected with spyware - and to let them give evidence against him in court?! Or maybe that fact is completely irrelevant and therefore should not be used against him in proceedings.

        • Wile E Coyote · 1562 days ago

          "Severely victimised"?

          Individually, no. Painful, yes, frustrating, yes; financial loss? - about £45 per machine at a decent PC repair shop. Collectively that's a big hit.

          The problem with botnets is that they harvest the compromised computers of lots of different people. Who are these people? Completely innocent individuals like your Mum or Dad, your Granny, Great Auntie Mable, a 90 year old pensioner, or a 9 year old Primary School pupil.

          Compromising innocent people's PCs to engage in criminal actions is plain wrong. If Cleary is found guilty of those charges pertaining to the construction and direction of the botnet, he deserves a strong message.

          There has been a lot of press attention to this case, in some part due to the disorder the Cleary has recently been diagnosed with and the assumed parallels to the McKinnon case.

          I do not subscribe to the view that the cases are similar. Yes, both defendants have been diagnosed with Aspergers, but for me that's where the similarities end. In fact, even that diagnosis has no bearing on the case; it can only to be used in mitigation if found guilty. In the McKinnon case there may be some genuine mitigation.

          However, the planning and design of a botnet and the delivery of that article to the alleged conspirators implies a degree of willful action that is way beyond what is alleged in the McKinnon case.

          Botnets are bad. Constructing and directing them is doubly bad.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at https://grahamcluley.com, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley