The "hacktivist" group Anonymous has reportedly called off its threat to expose names of associates of Mexico's Zetas drug cartel.
Unofficial Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown had claimed the organization would release 25,000 emails stolen from the Mexican government containing the names of 60 individuals with ties to the Zetas cartel, blamed for dozens of deaths in the drug war gripping the Veracruz region of Mexico, Gawker reported Thursday.
Brown — who according to Gawker has a six-figure book deal for a work tentatively titled "Anonymous: Tales From Inside The Accidental Cyberwar" — had threatened to release the emails on Nov. 5.
However, reports as to why — and even whether — the group had canceled the OpCartel campaign differed Friday.
According to some reports, in the Daily News and elsewhere, an Anonymous member allegedly abducted by the cartel was released Thursday.
Which led Brown to state: "Now, we have this truce with the Zetas."
However the website of Anonymous IberoAmerica — the collective's Spanish-speaking faction that initiated Operation Cartel — claimed that threats received by the group also played a role in the decision to drop the #OpCartel campaign, The Associated Press reports.
The group said late Thursday the cartel had threatened to kill 10 people for each name of a Zeta supporter revealed.
And Brown told The Atlantic Wire on Friday that:
"It turns out that the person was known to the Zetas and was sent back with a note in their pocket saying for every name we publish they're going to kill 10 civilians starting with this person. So that changes things. In terms of releasing those names of the Zetas, it's apparently off for now."
However, he took to his Twitter account to say that while he would be not be releasing Zeta names, he would be sending the Mexican government emails regarding other cartels to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.
I will not be releasing Zeta names from those e-mails, but will be going after other cartels with help from informants.
I will be continuing the fight against the cartels. The Mexican who has e-mails, Zeta names won't give, but I have more.
The reaction from tweeters and bloggers to the news OpCartel had been called off was mixed, according to the AP, with some calling Anonymous cowards for backing down while others defended the decision.