Fugitive hacker Christopher Doyon, or Commander X, was captured in Mexico and has been extradited to the United States, where he will face decade-old hacking charges. Doyon was a member of the Anonymous hacktivist collective.
According to an indictment, Doyon was part of a series of coordinated cyber attacks following a protest in Santa Cruz, California in 2010. Demonstrators occupied the front steps of the Santa Cruz Courthouses for approximately two months, from July 4 to October 2, 2010, to protest the county’s law against camping that directly impacted people experiencing homelessness in the city.
Doyon later allegedly shut down the Santa Cruz County website in a DDoS, or distributed denial of service attack, in a coordinated effort with the People’s Liberation Front and Anonymous. According to the indictment, they flooded the network with external communications requests so “the target could not respond to legitimate traffic, or responded so slowly as to render the target effectively unavailable.”
“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,” the indictment said. “The PLF referred to these co-ordinated attacks on Santa Cruz County as ‘Operation Peace Camp 2010.’”
He is also being charged for conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer, committing intentional damage to a protected computer, and aiding and abetting. The documents also named Joshua John Covelli, or “Absolem” or “Toxic,” as a co-conspirator.
In addition to hacking charges, Doyon is also facing charges for failing to appear in court. At the time, his counsel reported that he had fled to Canada. He continued to hack for years, according to a book he published about hacking while a fugitive.
Doyon was a fugitive in Mexico for nearly a decade after working with the PLF and later on was a high ranking member in the hacktivist group Anonymous during their most active years.
Doyon has spoken extensively about his time as a fugitive and the charges he faces.
“No servers were breached, no data was stolen. It’s a small, crowdsourced act of civil disobedience,” he said in 2017. “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.”
A crowdfunding campaign set up by friends of Doyon earlier this month calls him a “political refugee.”
“We are a group of Mexican citizens and friends of Commander X, who support him in his exile,” the crowdfunding campaign states. “We know it is difficult times for all of us, but he’s a political refugee and needs us all right now. We’d love to give back a little of what he’s given us all. We’ve provided housing for him and his two beautiful dogs. A nice, safe place with fields and mountains. Now we have to deal with medical and that's where you come in.”