A hacker who took down several official websites in Ottawa during the weekend, including those of the municipality and the local police, threatened further actions Monday.
The pressure tactics were unleashed as part of a campaign in support of an Ottawa-area teenaged boy who was arrested last spring with 60 criminal charges alleging that he made hoax calls to police across North America.
A hacker, who goes by the moniker Aerith, is now saying that there is evidence the teen was framed.
"We are preparing a huge 'bombshell' right now that we will release in the next few hours, let's just say – it will discredit the police forces … ," Aerith said in an e-mail on Monday morning after being contacted by The Globe and Mail.
The website of the Ottawa police remained disabled Monday. "Our systems remain secure," the Ottawa police said via Twitter.
The city of Ottawa's website was also inaccessible for part of the day. On its Twitter account, the city said it was "experiencing some technical issues."
The website of the Toronto police was also temporarily disabled on Sunday, the CBC reported.
The Supreme Court of Canada said in a statement that it had temporarily taken "its network offline as a precaution" over the weekend and that its "network and data remain secure." Executive legal officer Owen Rees said the court's website had not been hacked and the "court continues to take appropriate measures to protect its network."
The hacker also contacted the father of the boy who was arrested last spring, The boy's father invited reporters to a a press conference Sunday at a park in the Ottawa suburb of Barrhaven.
He read a statement from the hacker or hackers that warned of further cyber attacks. He also said there is proof that his son, who was 16 when he was arrested in May, is innocent.
"He was framed. We will disclose documents in upcoming days," the father said.
He added that the hacker or hackers "have given me evidence to clear my son's name." He also said, thanks to a tip from the hackers, he had found listening devices hidden in the sockets of lightbulbs in his house, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
"We are helping the youth because he is innocent, and got royally screwed by the police, for no apparent reason," the hacker said.
The hacker began advocating for the teen as early as Nov. 12, when a letter was sent to the Ottawa Sun.
The Canadian media cannot publish the names of the Barrhaven teen or his parents because of provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. However, his name and online nicknames have circulated online.
His lawyer, Joshua Clarke, does not wish to comment on the latest developments, a staffer at his law firm said.
Gabriella Coleman, a McGill University professor who researches computer hacking, characterized the attacks as "low-level infiltration." While the hacker crashed some websites and defaced the home pages of others, she noted that he or she didn't necessarily get deeper access.
"Usually when a hacker enters into a system, lower-level access is just simply the front page. That doesn't mean that you have access beyond that," she said.
While the person behind the attacks claims ties to the hacker group Anonymous, he or she appears to be acting alone, which is unusual, said Prof. Coleman, who has just written a new book on Anonymous.
"I do see it as a kind of lone individual," she said. "There's really no evidence that there's other hackers or geeks that were part of his action and even with the last two days of quite a bit of press, no existing Anonymous groups [have] really risen up to contribute to his work."
Last spring, police started investigating a series of "swatting" incidents, a hoax designed to get a police SWAT team to respond to fake emergency calls about a gunman or a bomb.
The bogus emergency calls sent heavily armed tactical squads to schools in Milton, Ont., Laval, Que., Calgary, California, Maryland, New York state, Florida and Connecticut.
Twitter user @ProbablyOnion2 bragged about being behind the incidents, boasting that: "I really hope you guys know I was the one who called in the threat, lol."
On May 8, Ottawa police arrested the Barrhaven teen, following what the FBI described as "an international investigation that involved multiple Canadian and American law enforcement partners."
The teen was charged with 60 criminal counts in connection with 30 swatting incidents. The charges included public mischief, mischief to property, uttering death threats and conveying false information with intent to alarm.
Ottawa police said their investigation had been conducted with the help of Halton Regional Police, Laval Police, the Sûreté du Québec, the Calgary Police Service and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said the website of the Supreme Court of Canada had been hacked. The court said it temporarily took its website offline as a precaution.