The Half-Life 2 code theft saga entered a new chapter today when Valve Software announced that a series of arrests had been made in the case. According to Valve, suspects in several countries had been taken into custody in relation to charges stemming from the theft of the Half-Life 2 code, the distribution of the code, and the break-in into Valve's network.
Valve CEO Gabe Newell credited gamers with providing the information that led to the arrests. It was extraordinary to watch how quickly and how cleverly gamers were able to unravel what are traditionally unsolvable problems for law enforcement related to this kind of cyber-crime," he said in a statement. "Everyone here at Valve is once again reminded of how much we owe to the gaming community."
However, while Valve announced the arrests today, it was unclear when they actually occurred. Valve's statement on the matter--e-mailed to the press today--quoted Newell as saying, "Within a few days of the announcement of the break-in, the online gaming community had tracked down those involved."
The FBI's Northwest Cyber Crime Task Force, the law-enforcement agency overseeing the code theft investigation, also divulged little information. When asked by GameSpot if it had made any arrests, the media contact at the task force's Seattle, Washington, headquarters said simply, "We did." However, when pressed for more information on the case--such as how many people in the US were arrested, where were they apprehended--the agent declined to say anything other than that arrests had been made. "Beyond that we cannot comment," he said.
News of the Half-Life 2 arrests comes after months of rumors about law-enforcement activity on the case. In January, a number of computer experts in the San Francisco area reported having their hardware seized by FBI agents on the grounds that they were involved in the theft. Several weeks ago, unconfirmed reports from Germany said the author of the Phatbot Trojan worm was also involved in the theft. In both instances, neither Valve nor the authorities offered any comment.
GameSpot will have more details on this developing story as they become available.