Last week, hacker collective LulzSec returned with a bang, attacking a series of websites owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International in apparent response to the ongoing phone hacking scandal.
For 50 days between May and June, the tight-knit, six-strong group made headlines across the world, rising to almost instant notoriety after perpetrating a series of audacious cyber attacks on high-profile government and corporate websites, before abruptly announcing that they would disband. Among just a few of LulzSec's targets: Sony, the US Senate, the CIA, the FBI and even the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency.
The authorities continue to try to track them down, and on Tuesday 20 suspected hackers were arrested in the UK, US and Netherlands as part of an ongoing international investigation. In a joint statement with an affiliated network of hackers known as Anonymous, LulzSec responded to the authorities directly. "We are not scared any more," they wrote. "Your threats to arrest us are meaningless as you cannot arrest an idea."
Earlier this month, two weeks after they had announced their apparent split, I managed to track down "Topiary", a founding member of LulzSec and self described "captain of the Lulz Boat". The interview was long - almost three hours - and covered lots of ground. But a great deal of what Topiary told me never made it in to the final write up, published by the Guardian, due principally to restrictions of space.
It was troublesome, deciding what to include and what to omit; the entirety of the interview was valuable. So rather than let the sections that were not printed disappear into the ether, the most sensible thing to do, I felt, was to have the full transcript published here in its entirety.
In the sections that were until now unpublished, Topiary explains how he first became involved in hacktivism and pays credit to his fellow hackers. He details the basis for extortion claims levelled against LulzSec by one US security company; reveals that he recently engaged in a bout of philanthropy, donating thousands of dollars to organisations including WikiLeaks; and also takes time to talk politics - blasting the US government, who he says are "scared of an uprising"... (click read more below for the full interview.)