In an exclusive interview published on Monday by New Scientist, a key member of the notorious hacker group LulzSec spoke directly for the first time about how he sees himself and his motivations.

"I'm a man who believes in human rights and exposing abuse and corruption," the hacker known as Sabu insisted. "I generally care about people and their situations. I'm into politics and I try my best to stay on top of current events."

During its brief but spectacular career, LulzSec typically presented itself as in it more for the lulz -- the laughs -- than out of any sense of social responsibility. On June 12, for example, a post on the group's Twitter account proclaimed, "If you want ethics, go cry to #Anonymous. True lulz fans, stay tuned in as the next day or two brings much entertainment. Sailing has begun."

Sabu, however, was at pains to present himelf in the interview as someone with close ties to Anonymous and a strong political motivation. When the interviewer noted, "We've seen you cast as everything from the greatest of heroes to the most evil of villains," he replied simply, "It is hard for me to see myself as either."

"I am not trying to be a martyr," he explained. "I'm not some cape-wearing hero, nor am I some supervillain trying to bring down the good guys. I'm just doing what I know how to do, and that is counter abuse."

Sabu went on to explain that he initially became involved in "hactivism" eleven years ago, when the Puerto Ricans were protesting against the use of Vieques Island as a naval bombing range, but was more recently drawn into an association with Anonymous as a result of the detention of Julian Assange in the UK followed by the revolution in Tunisia.

"I was at the point of no return when I realised that I could make a change," he remarked. "Operation Tunisia was it for me. Then HBGary [a security firm attacked by LulzSec]. Now Antisec is the biggest movement in years, unifying all hackers and free thinkers across Anonymous and other groups. There's no going back. ... There is no fear in my heart. I've passed the point of no return. I only hope that if I am stopped, the movement continues on the right path without me."

Sabu's self-presentation appears at odds with the taunting persona displayed by LulzSec in the past, and the interview is likely to raise as many questions as it answers. But for now it offers one more enigmatic but fascinating chapter in the evolving hactivist saga.

(Story tip via WikiLeaks Central.)