Ryan Cleary, the 19-year-old charged in the U.K. on five counts of computer hacking activity, has Asperger's syndrome, his lawyer told a judge at a hearing today.
The BBC also reported today that Cleary was granted bail but that after prosecutors objected, he remains in custody.
Cleary was arrested earlier this week in connection with a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks said to have been the handiwork of LulzSec, a hacking group that has claimed responsibility for a number of high-profile Internet incidents recently against the likes of Sony, PBS, the CIA, and the U.S. Senate. He has not entered a plea on any of the charges.
LulzSec denies that Cleary is one of its key associates, though it acknowledges that he hosts "one of our many legitimate chat rooms on his IRC server."
Cleary's lawyer said in Westminster Magistrates' Court today that in addition to having Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, Cleary also has agoraphobia, according to the BBC.
Asperger's syndrome has been a factor in a separate, long-running case that has been playing out in the U.K., this one involving self-acknowledged hacker Gary McKinnon. A diagnosis of Asperger's has been a key factor in determining whether McKinnon would be extradited to the U.S., where he's been charged with breaking into computers at NASA and several branches of the U.S. military.
British authorities charge that Cleary launched DDoS attacks--in which the target computers are flooded with traffic in an effort to knock them offline--against the Serious Organized Crime Agency, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and the British Phonographic Industry. The attack on SOCA was among those included in a planned joint operation orchestrated by LulzSec and another hacker group, Anonymous, to steal and disperse classified information from banks, government agencies, and other prominent targets.
If Cleary wins his bail appeal he would be banned from having "any possession which can access the Internet," the BBC said. The BBC gave an August 30 date for a hearing on the bail appeal, but reports from the Guardian, AFP, and other news outlets say the hearing is set for Monday.
Updated at 11:57 a.m. PT with additional information on date of bail-appeal hearing.