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Spanish cops arrest three in Anonymous raids

Spanish police say they have arrested three individuals suspected of being part of the Anonymous hacking collective.

Raids which were carried you yesterday, as part of an ongoing operation started last October, netted the un-named individuals as part of what the Wall Street Journal described as a 'global crackdown' on the increasingly active 'hacktivist' movement.

Anonymous began life as a group of like-minded tech nerds who populated the 4chan IRC group and soon started a campaign against the Church of Scientology, attacks on which garnered its first headlines.

Recently, the headless international not-really-a-group made the big-time when it went after any organisation or individual standing in the way of whistle-blowing outfit Wikileaks, attacking the likes of credit card Mastercard which had refused to process payments for Julian Assange's organisation after it leaked secret US military documents.

Anonymous is also credited with bringing Sony's PlayStation Network to its knees for more than a month, although the group has repeatedly denied stealing credit card and other personal details from the gaming site.

Today's arrests follow a very public threat from NATO in which it promised to 'infiltrate' Anonymous and 'persecute' its members.

Police said they found software 'designed to infect other computers' as well as evidence of sophisticated encryption methods used to hide a computer users identity.

The three individuals were arrested on suspicion of causing economic damage and breaching privacy laws and remain in police custody.

The bust follows similar operations in the USA, Holland and the UK in the last six or seven months.