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Law enforcement agencies have arrested a number of people in connection with the alleged theft last year of the source code to the long-anticipated first-person shooter, Half-Life 2, it has emerged.

Details remain scarce. The game's developer, Valve Software, last night issued a press release simply announcing the arrests and little else besides. The FBI's Northwest cybercrime taskforce, the team investigating the theft, would only confirm that arrests had been made.

Neither party has said how many arrests have been made, when they took place or where.

Nor have they confirmed a variety of rumours that have emerged this year of equipment seized in San Francisco and a connection between then theft and German suspected of authoring the Phatbot worm.

At the time of the alleged theft, Valve CEO Gabe Newell claimed his email account had been hacked. He also said be believed some sort of keystroke recorder had been installed on some of the company's PCs. Valve had also sustained a number of Denial of Service attacks, he added.

Half-Life 2's source code leaked last October. Only the game code was circulated on the Internet - no content was included, making it impossible for the source to be played.

On the back of the alleged theft, the game's distributor, Vivendi Universal, said the game would not ship before Christmas, as previously scheduled. Instead, it said, the title would appear some time in 2004.

Ironically, the announcements of the arrests comes a week after it emerged that the game might not be finished this year after all. Half-Life 2's does not appear on Vivendi Universal's mid-year release timetable - a list that includes a number of other titles earmarked for the company's Christmas line-up.

The theft also caused some embarrasment for graphics chip maker ATI, which last Autumn pledged to ship the single-player version of Half-Life 2 with its then brand-new Radeon XT graphics cards. ®

Related stories

Half Life 2 leak means no launch for Christmas
ATI unveils Radeon XT
Cisco probes source code theft
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