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SOCA hacker 'diagnosed with Asperger syndrome'

Ryan Cleary diagnosed with same form of autism as Gary McKinnon

Ryan Cleary, the 19-year-old hacker accused of launching an attack against the Serious Organised Crime Agency's (SOCA) website, has Asperger's syndrome - the same form of autism as fellow hacker Gary McKinnon.

Ben Cooper, the lawyer representing Cleary, told the court last week that the hacker had been diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder by a psychologist, as well as agoraphobia.

Cleary is charged with five offences under the Criminal Law and Computer Misuse Act. It is alleged he conspired with other members of hacking group LulzSec on or before June 20, to create a botnet that was used to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on a number of websites, including SOCA and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Furthermore, he is also accused of launching attacks on the British Photographic Industry (BPI) website in October.

Although Cleary, who did not enter a plea to the charges, was granted bail, he remains in custody after prosecutors objected. An appeal for bail will be heard today. If he is successful in his appeal, Cleary will be subject to a number of conditions including not being able to access the web and not using any device that features a net connection. Meanwhile, a Plea and Case Management Hearing will take place at Southwark Crown Court on 30 August.

NASA hacker Gary McKinnon, who is accused of breaking into US military computers in a bid to prove the US government had knowledge of UFOs in 2001, has also been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

The US claims McKinnon's hacking activities caused $700,000 (£433,000) worth of damage. He's also accused of stealing 950 passwords, deleting files at a naval base in New Jersey and rendering the military computer networks used following September 11 useless. He was first arrested in 2002 but has been fighting extradition since 2005. His lawyers claim his condition means he will be unable to cope in a US jail and could be driven to end his own life if tried and convicted in the US.

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