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Originally published Friday, March 9, 2012 at 3:42 AM

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UK police quiz man over abortion website attack

Police have arrested a man suspected of hacking into the website of a major British abortion provider, vandalizing it and stealing sensitive data, officials said Friday.

Associated Press

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LONDON —

Police have arrested a man suspected of hacking into the website of a major British abortion provider, vandalizing it and stealing sensitive data, officials said Friday.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which has around 40 clinics and other centers across the country, said the hacker wasn't able to access medical information about women who'd sought treatment from the nonprofit.

However the attacker was able to compromise about 9,000 records - including names, addresses, and phone numbers - of people who'd made inquiries through the website. Public policy manager Abigail Fitzgibbon said that swift action by authorities meant the information wasn't leaked to the Internet.

"We hope that women will be reassured that no data's been released," she said.

Fitzgibbon said the hacker - who her organization described as an "an anti-abortion extremist" - launched some 26,000 attacks on the website over a six-hour period Thursday. She said her group was able to trace the online onslaught to a Twitter user and alerted police, who swooped in on their suspect in the early hours of Friday morning.

Scotland Yard said that its specialist e-crimes unit had searched an address in Wednesbury, a market town about 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of London, and arrested a 27-year-old man who claimed allegiance to Anonymous, the amorphous Internet activist group.

Detective Inspector Mark Raymond said in a statement that his unit moved rapidly "to prevent personal details of people who had requested information from the (charity's) website being made public."

The suspect, who was not identified, remains in custody.

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Raphael Satter can be reached at: http://twitter.com/razhael

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