Third Anonymous Member Sentenced in Scientology Church Attack

SciencetologyA member of Anonymous was sentenced earlier this week in New York City Criminal Court for his role in an attack on the Church of Scientology of New York, making him the third affiliate of the hacktivist collective to be held responsible for the 2009 incident.

In 2009, Jacob Speregen accompanied another member of Anonymous, Mahoud Samed Almahadin, who ran into the New York Church off Times Square and vandalized the church. Speregen filmed the attack as a co-conspirator with Almahadin and other Anonymous members.

Speregen’s sentence bans him from going near the Church of Scientology for five years. He was also ordered to pay the damages caused by his acts and to perform community service as further restitution for the crime.

Church of Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon commented on the sentencing, saying, “This decision by the court sends a strong message to Anonymous—and any hate group—that their actions will not be tolerated and that the right to practice one’s religion will be protected.”

The conviction follows the sentencing of two men on separate felony convictions for their part in a cyber attack against Church of Scientology websites in January 2008, also carried out by Anonymous members.

Dmitriy Guzner of New Jersey is currently incarcerated in federal prison for his role in the DDoS attack against Scientology websites. Following that attack, church websites were inaccessible to users for more than 24 hours. The attacks continued for 12 days, requiring the church to hire a computer security company to protect against the assaults and to redirect traffic.

The U.S. District Court in Newark sentenced Guzner to a 366-day prison term, plus two years’ probation following his prison term, and ordered Guzner to pay $37,500 restitution to the church.

Another Anonymous follower, Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, is also behind bars as a result of his participation in the same attack on Scientology websites, for conspiracy and “transmission of a code, information, program, or command to a protected computer.”

According to court documents, Mettenbrink obtained a computer program from an Anonymous website and launched a DDoS attack from his dorm room at Iowa State University against the church computers in Los Angeles, Calif.

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