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Attack on Scientology Website Sends New Jersey Man to Jail on Felony Charges
The United States District Court in Newark, N.J., sentenced a New Jersey man today to one year and one day in federal prison on a felony conviction for his part in a cyber attack against Church of Scientology websites in January 2008 [Case No. CR 09-87-01]. i ii
He carried out the attack with others calling themselves “Anonymous,” a hate group targeting Scientology and others individuals and organizations iii, including the website of the Prime Minister of Australia iv.
Dmitriy Guzner, 19, of Verona, New Jersey, who in May pleaded guilty to one count of computer hacking, was sentenced for his role in the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against Scientology websites. A DDOS attack occurs when a large amount of malicious Internet traffic is directed at websites, overloading their capacity and making them unavailable to legitimate users.
Church websites were made unavailable to valid users for 24 hours, with the attacks continuing for 12 days, requiring the Church to hire a computer security company to protect against the attacks and to reroute traffic. Due to the severity of the crime, Judge Joseph Greenaway in U.S. District Court in Newark sentenced Guzner to the 366-day prison term, plus two years probation following his prison term, and ordered Guzner to pay $37,500 restitution to the Church. v vi
On October 31, another Anonymous follower, Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, 20, was indicted by a Grand Jury at the US District Court for Central California for the same attack on Scientology websites, for conspiracy and “transmission of a code, information, program, or command to a protected computer.” The indictment states that he obtained a computer program from an Anonymous website and executed a DDOS attack from his dormitory at Iowa State University against the Church computers in Los Angeles. He is awaiting sentencing. vii
Anonymous is an underground hate group that, in addition to the cyber attack, targeted Churches of Scientology and members with death threats, bomb threats and fake anthrax mail. In addition to Scientology Churches and the Prime Minister of Australia viii, Anonymous has also targeted The Epilepsy Foundation, hip-hop music websites and others. ix x
Scientology is a worldwide religious movement with more than 8,000 Churches, Missions and groups in 165 countries. The Church and its members dedicate their time and resources to numerous humanitarian programs that Scientology has become known for around the world, including combating drug abuse, immorality, illiteracy and human rights violations.
For more information about Scientology, visit www.scientology.org.
i Dmitriy Guzner, Minutes of Sentencing Procedure, 21 October 2009, Case No CR 09-87-01
ii Star Ledger, 18 November 2009
iii Wired Magazine, 19 September 2008 (attacks on Epilespy foundation and others)
iv Wired Magazine, 9 September 2009 (attack on Australian Government, Prime Minister)
v Star Ledger, 18 November 2009
vi Associated Press, 18 November 2009
vii United States of America vs. Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, Indictment of Grand Jury at US District Court for Central California, filed 28 October 2009, Case No. CR 09 01149.
viii Wired Magazine, 9 September 2009 (attack on Australian Government, Prime Minister)
ix Wired Magazine, 19 September 2008 (attacks on Epilespy foundation and others)
x MTV Info, 30 June 2008 (attack on rap music sites SOHH.com and AllHipHop.com)