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.Gov Site Goes Down; Anonymous Claims Responsibility

The hacker-activist group Anonymous is claiming responsibility for taking down a government website Saturday. NPR's Giles Snyder reports for our Newscast unit:

"The group says it hijacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, the Internet activist who committed suicide earlier this month. The hackers also claim to have infiltrated several government computers and are threatening to make secret information public."

Family and friends blamed federal prosecutors for aggressively pursuing Swartz for allegedly downloading millions of academic articles with the intention of distributing them for free, Snyder says. Just 26 at the time of his death, Swartz was a co-founder of the social media website Reddit.

Visitors to the government agency's home page saw a message saying a line had been crossed. Anonymous claims to have "infiltrated several government computer systems and is threatening to make public secret information," Snyder says.

As of this writing, pages at http://www.ussc.gov/ were still not available.

Update Sunday, 1:13 a.m. ET. Up And Running:

The site now seems to be working again. ZDNet reported it had been restored at 11 p.m. ET. Saturday.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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