Arrests have been made in Italy and Switzerland of 15 people alleged to be members of Anonymous.
Those arrested are aged between 15 and 28 with five under 18, have been accused of performing denial of service attacks on Italian websites belonging to the government and on both state and private broadcasters, reports arstechnica.com.
A 26-year-old Swiss-Italian called ‘Phre' was named as a senior member of the group and approved companies for the hackers to target.
Anonymous responded with a statement acknowledging the arrests but denied that the entire Italian network of Anonymous had been dismantled and the ‘leaders' of Italian Anonymous has been arrested.
“Anonymous denies these media reports and reiterates that this is impossible: Anonymous is not been dismantled. Anonymous has no leaders, no structure. All Anonymous members operate at the same level," the statement said.
"Those arrested are not ‘dangerous hackers' as the media calls them, but people like you. They have been arrested while peacefully protesting for there and your rights. Our protest will continue louder than ever."
The Italian branch of Anonymous is suspected of bombarding government, business and media websites with denial-of-service attacks, with victims including the Italian senate, energy firm ENI, defence firm Finmeccanica and financial institution UniCredit.
Last month, arrests were made in Spain of more than 30 people, charged with the attacks on the websites of Sony PlayStation, banks, an electricity company and the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Colombia and New Zealand.
Pro-US hacker The Jester, commenting on Anonymous' ‘We are Legion, we do not forget, we do not forgive, expect us' motto, said: “15 more 'Anonymous' arrested (again). Legion didn't 'expect' that.”