Anonymous has defaced the US Sentencing Commission website and is threatening to make public secret files which could be related to Supreme Court Judges.

Aaron Swartz
Aaron Swartz, Reddit co-founder, whose suicide earlier this month is the inspiration behind Anonymous's Last Report campaign. (Credit: Reuters)

Over the weekend, the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous carried out several attacks on the US Sentencing Commission (ussc.gov) as a response to the death of Aaron Swartz earlier this month. The demonstration, called Operation Last Resort, saw Anonymous deface the website by embedding a video statement.

At the time of publication (12.35pm GMT) the website was offline, despite earlier reports suggesting it was back in operation.

In the statement, Anonymous said:

"Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed. Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win - a twisted and distorted perversion of justice - a game where the only winning move was not to play."

The first, unsuccessful attack on the website came on Friday afternoon which was followed in the early hours of Saturday morning by a second, successful attack which saw the video message embedded on the site, and allowed anyone to edit the website's text.

Along with simply defacing a US government website, Anonymous also revealed that it had been "infiltrating" numerous other US government websites. In the statement Anonymous said that over the past two weeks it had wound down these operations, removing all trace of the attacks including the "injection apparatus" it used to hack into the websites.

The group claims to have stolen a lot of sensitive information which it is threatening to make public if the US government does not agree top reform "outdated and poorly-envisioned legislation." The files, which are currently encrypted, all bear the name of US Supreme Court judges, leading to speculation that the information contained within the files related to the judges themselves.

Everyone has secrets

Anonymous said:  "The contents are various and we won't ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public."

The group says it plans on choosing one media outlet and supplying them with heavily redacted contents of the files. The files are freely available from a number of servers around the world, but without an encryption key, you will not be able to access the information.

Swartz, who was one of the co-founders of Reddit, committed suicide on 11 January, ahead of his trial in April for illegally downloading academic research papers from the online resource JSTOR.

Following his suicide, Swartz's family hit out at the criminal justice system in the US, saying it was "rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach." The family added: "Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death."

Anonymous had previously defaced MIT websites calling for the tragedy to be "the basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them."