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Group charged in PayPal cyber attack pleads guilty

A PayPal card sits at a cashier station at a Home Depot store in Daly City, California, February 21, 2012. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
A PayPal card sits at a cashier station at a Home Depot store in Daly City, California, February 21, 2012. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A group of 13 defendants who had been charged in a cyber attack on PayPal's website pleaded guilty and admitted to the December 2010 attack over PayPal's suspension of WikiLeaks accounts.

The pleas took place in a California federal court on Thursday and were announced on Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco.

Following the release of a large amount of classified documents by WikiLeaks, PayPal suspended its accounts so that the anti-secrecy website could no longer receive donations. In retribution, the group "Anonymous" coordinated and executed denial-of-service attacks against PayPal.

The group of defendants who pleaded guilty were composed of 11 men and two women. Ten of them pleaded to a felony charge, but will be allowed to change that to a misdemeanor next year if they do not violate terms of their agreement before sentencing, according to the U.S. attorney's statement.

The three other defendants agreed to misdemeanor charges.

EBay's PayPal unit is a service that facilitates the electronic transfer of money between parties.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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