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World in brief, Sunday Jan. 27

Hackers seize sentencing site

WASHINGTON (AP) — The hacker-activist group Anonymous says it hijacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who committed suicide.

The website of the commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch, was taken over early Saturday and replaced with a message warning that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago “a line was crossed.”

The hackers say they’ve infiltrated several government computer systems and copied secret information that they now threaten to make public.

Family and friends of Swartz, who helped create Reddit and RSS, say he killed himself after he was hounded by federal prosecutors. Officials say he helped post millions of court documents for free online and that he illegally downloaded millions of academic articles from an online clearinghouse.

Iran warns of Syria attack

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran considers any attack against Syria an attack on itself, an advisor to the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader was quoted as saying Saturday, the strongest warning to date by a top Iranian official that Tehran will use any available means to keep the regime of President Bashar Assad in power.

Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Syria plays a major role in the “resistance front” of anti-Israel states and militant groups.

“Syria plays a very key role in supporting, or God forbid destabilizing, the resistance front. For this same reason, attack on Syria is considered attack on Iran and Iran’s allies,” Velayati was quoted by the semiofficial Mehr news agency as saying.

Levy subject of secret hearings

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge has been holding secret hearings in the case of the man convicted in the 2001 killing of Chandra Levy, the latest twist in a high-profile murder that went unsolved for years and captivated the public because of the intern’s romantic relationship with a California congressman.

The meetings, held sporadically behind closed doors at the courthouse over the last several weeks, raise questions about what comes next in a criminal case that appeared resolved by the 2010 conviction of Ingmar Guandique. The illegal immigrant from El Salvador is now serving a 60-year prison sentence in Levy’s death, but the hearings could signal a problem with the prosecution of the case.

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