WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 16-year-old boy in Britain has been arrested on criminal charges related to the alleged hacking of email accounts used by CIA director John Brennan and other U.S. officials, according to U.S. and British sources familiar with the investigation.
A spokesman for Britain's Thames Valley Police said that on Tuesday, a regional organised crime squad had arrested the unnamed youth in England's East Midlands on "suspicion of conspiracy to commit unauthorised access to computer material" and related offences.
The police statement did not identify the youth but said that he had been released on bail until June 6. The police statement also did not identify the targets of any of the arrested youth's alleged hack attacks.
However sources on both sides of the Atlantic familiar with the case said that the arrested hacker was believed to have been involved in the hacking of Brennan's private email account. He also reportedly may have been involved in the hacking of other U.S. officials and posting of names and contact information for thousands of FBI and U.S. Homeland Security Department (DHS) employees.
The website Motherboard reported on Friday that investigators suspected the arrested youth posed online as a hacker known as "Cracka" who led a group called "Crackas With Attitude."
Motherboard reported that it had spoken to the teenager on Wednesday, who denied being "Cracka" but acknowledged that he had been accused by U.K. authorities of hacking Brennan, White House officials, and a purported hack on the Department of Justice which resulted in the publication of basic contact information on an estimated 30,000 FBI and DHS workers.
The CIA and Justice Department declined to comment. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Following the disclosure last October that Brennan's AOL email account had been attacked, the FBI confirmed that it was investigating the hack attack jointly with the U.S. Secret Service.
At the time, "Cracka" claimed credit for publishing material from Brennan's email account, which included email contact addresses, some of which were out of date, and the Social Security numbers and personal information of U.S. intelligence officials. The WikiLeaks website later republished some of the material.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Andrew Hay