The group known as Anonymous said Saturday it has hacked some 70 law enforcement websites across the southern and central United States in retaliation for the arrests of its sympathizers in the U.S. and Britain.
The group also claimed to have stolen 10 gigabytes of data, including emails, credit card details, and other information from local law enforcement bodies.
"We are releasing a massive amount of confidential information that is sure to embarrass, discredit and incriminate police officers across the U.S.," the group said in a statement, adding that it hoped the leak would "demonstrate the inherently corrupt nature of law enforcement using their own words" and "disrupt and sabotage their ability to communicate and terrorize communities."
Anonymous' claims couldn't all be immediately verified, but a review of the sites it claims to have targeted — mainly sheriffs" offices in states such as Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Mississippi — showed that most were unavailable or had been wiped clean of content.
Most of the half dozen calls to various sheriff's offices across the country went unanswered or weren't returned Saturday, but at least one sheriff confirmed that law enforcement bodies had been hacked.
In the state of Arkansas, St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May said his department and several others were targeted in retaliation for the arrest of hackers who had targeted Apple Computer Inc., among other companies.
"It's an international group who are hacking into law enforcement websites across the nation is my understanding," May told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
May said the FBI was investigating the attacks.