Known as “Commander X”, and a former resident of Mountain View, California, fugitive hacker Christopher Doyon was finally captured in Mexico. Extradition agreements mean that he is now in the United States, where criminal charges await him. Doyon is known as a member of the Anonymous hacktivist collective.
Christopher Doyon, 57, wrote the book “Behind the Mask: An Inside Look at Anonymous,” while on the run. In the latest updates around this case, Doyon has managed to reach a plea agreement with California’s Northern District prosecutors.
As of March 2022, he will plead guilty to seven counts of intentional damage to a protected computer stemming from a 2011 cyber attack in Orlando, Fla., and two similar charges related to his alleged participation in the 2010 attack launched in Santa Cruz county.
The Santa Cruz county DDoS attack followed an in-person Santa Cruz-based demonstration that ran from July 4-October 2, 2010, which called for the county to revise its decision to outlaw camping, an act that was interpreted as unfairly targeting homeless people in the area.
Previously, Doyon had entered a “not guilty” plea. At present, he is being held in Santa Rita Jail, located in Dublin, California.
Operation Peace Camp
Doyon’s DDoS attack was coordinated in partnership with the People’s Liberation Front hacktivist group and the well-known Anonymous hacktivist collective. Indictment documents state that the groups bombarded the Santa Cruz County network with a series of external communication requests. This prevented the site from responding to requests altogether and then functioned to slow site responses.
“In retribution for Santa Cruz City’s enforcement of [the anti-camping law], the PLF coordinated and executed a DDoS attack against Santa Cruz County’s computer servers,” notes the indictment.
Christopher Doyon and the People’s Liberation Front group are believed to have referred to this attack as “Operation Peace Camp”.
The charges against Doyon
In addition to the charges previously described, Christopher Doyon is also contending with conspiracy charges, charges related to deliberately damaging a protected computer and aiding and abetting. A co-conspirator has also been named.
After failing to appear in court in February of 2012, Doyon faces further charges. A member of Doyon’s general council stated that Doyon had fled. While on the run, Doyon made his way to Canada. According to a book that he released, Doyon continued hacking while a fugitive there.
Subsequently, Doyon found shelter in Mexico, which served as his hacker hideout for nearly a decade. During the Anonymous collective’s busiest years, Doyon reportedly functioned as a high-ranking member of the group.
What Christopher Doyon says
In the past, when entering a court plea as “not guilty,” Doyon contended that “No servers were breached, no data was stolen. It’s a small, crowdsourced act of civil disobedience.” He noted “It’s unjust to take that many years away from me for protest … from my perspective, I’m in political exile. But according to the U.S. Department of Justice, I’m a fugitive.”
The US penalty for failure to appear in court can be as significant as two years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, followed by a three-year supervised release. The maximum penalty for levying damage on a protected computer and aiding and abetting in such situations includes 10 years’ imprisonment followed by a three-year supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
A crowdfunding campaign established by Doyon’s friends labeled him a “political refugee.” Stated the crowdfunding site, “We are a group of Mexican citizens and friends of Commander X, who support him in his exile.”
“We know it is difficult times for all of us, but he’s a political refugee and needs us all right now…” The People’s Liberation Front hactivist collective was founded by Doyon and others in 1985, while Doyon was homeless. The monicker “Commander X” was intended to help him maintain anonymity. He moved to Santa Cruz in 2010.
Christopher Doyon is also accused of playing a role in a distributed denial of service attack against BART, in the aftermath of an incident where Police fatally shot a homeless person.
Mexican immigration enforcement released Christopher Doyon to the United States on June 11th of 2021. For more on this story, visit the US Department of Justice’s website.