By Juliet Rowan
December 03, 2007
The teenager at the centre of an international cyber crime investigation
has Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism often characterised by
social isolation but great intelligence and talent in a particular area.
Owen Walker's mother yesterday told the Herald that her son had the
condition and that police investigating allegations that he is the
mastermind of an international "bot-net" ring were aware of the fact.
Speaking at the family home in Whitianga, Shell Moxham-Whyte said she
had "no idea" of the 18-year-old's alleged involvement in the ring,
which the FBI believes has infected more than one million computers. She
said that the family had been advised not to speak publicly and that her
son was now staying with relatives elsewhere.
Mrs Moxham-Whyte said he and the family had come under intense pressure
since it was revealed on Saturday that he was the cyber figure Akill
whom the FBI considered "the ringleader of an international bot-net
A bot-net is a network of computers under the command and control of a
criminal "bot-herder" who uses the network to commit cyber crimes or
rents it to other cyber criminals.
It is understood that Walker is now staying in Auckland.
Police have already interviewed the 18-year-old and plan to question him
again once tests have been carried out on computers seized from his
Whitianga home on Wednesday.
They have been working on the case since February with the FBI.
Friends and employers have praised Walker as a brilliant computer
programmer and the police national electronic crime laboratory manager,
Maarten Kleintjes, said he was "very, very bright in terms of his
ability to be able to produce that sort of code".
The teenager has lost his job as a programmer at Trio Software
Development but company director Glenn Campbell told the Herald he
believed Walker did not actively seek trouble or illegal activity.
Friends have described him as a loner and said he was bullied at Mercury
Bay Area School before he left in Year 9.
Mrs Moxham-Whyte said her son was an intelligent boy who had loved
computers from a young age.
He had done correspondence school after he left Mercury Bay.
Asked if she knew whether he had been profiting from involvement in a
criminal bot-net, she said, "I can't say any more".
She confirmed that her son's surname was Walker, after the Weekend
Herald was told it was Wilson.
Owen is also known by "Snow Whyte" and "Snow Walker".
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