Accused hacker Gary McKinnon has lost a crucial battle in his fight to avoid prosecution in the United States after a British judge ordered his extradition to America.
Judge Nicholas Evans, sitting at Bow Street Magistrates' Court, ruled on Wednesday morning that McKinnon must face U.S. courts.
McKinnon, who lives in London, is accused of hacking into 53 U.S. government computers, including some used by NASA, and causing US$700,000 worth of damage.
Evans rejected the defense arguments that McKinnon would not face a fair trial in the United States or that he risked being treated as a terrorist suspect.
The two countries "have had extradition arrangements in place for over 150 years. I have no reason to believe that McKinnon will not receive fair treatment," Evans said.
McKinnon was instructed that he must prepare himself to be flown to America on May 17. However, he is likely to appeal the decision.
The final decision on whether McKinnon should be sent to the United States for trial rests with Home Secretary John Reid.
McKinnon has admitted accessing U.S. government networks but denies causing any damage. He has claimed that he was looking for, and found, evidence of UFOs and secret military technology.
Speaking outside the court, McKinnon indicated he was not hopeful about his future.
"Virginia (where his case will be heard) is famously conservative. I am practically hung and quartered there already," he said.