The Guardian, out of the United Kingdom, is reporting that Gary McKinnon, the "world's most dangerous hacker", will be extradited to the United States to face criminal hacking charges. McKinnon, a 42 year old unemployed systems administrator from north London, allegedly hacked into systems belonging to the US army, navy, air force, and Nasa in 2001. From the article:
He said he was merely searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life, but American officials labeled him the world's most dangerous hacker and accused him of deleting important files and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of damage.
According to prosecutors, McKinnon scanned more than 73,000 US government computers and hacked into 97 machines belonging to the US army, navy, air force and Nasa.
Not to stick up for this guy, but I am not sure that scanning 73,000 machines and hacking into 97 of them qualifies someone as the "world's most dangerous hacker". Certainly he is not harmless, but I have to believe there's a lot of hackers out their with a bigger trophy case than McKinnon's. This is not to trivialize what he has done, I just worry that the US may be over-sensationalizing this to play into their case.
His lawyers have fought vigorously against the extradition, arguing that McKinnon could face up to 60 years in prison as a result of his actions, and could even be classed as an "enemy combatant" and interned at Guantánamo Bay. Instead they argued that he should face prosecution under Britain's more lenient computer crime laws because he carried out the hacking from his bedroom in London.
McKinnon is certain to get harsh treatment here, but has he caused enough damage to warrant 60 years in prison and a trip to Gitmo? The article talked about what comes next for McKinnon and his legal team:
In a statement, McKinnon's legal team said it would be taking the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
"Gary McKinnon is neither a terrorist nor a terrorist sympathizer," the statement said. "His case could have been properly dealt with by our own prosecuting authorities. Instead, we believe that the British government declined to prosecute him to enable the US government to make an example of him.
"American officials involved in this case have stated that they want to see him 'fry'. The consequences he faces if extradited are both disproportionate and intolerable and we will be making an immediate application to the European Court to prevent his removal."
What are your thoughts on this?
[Image courtesy of the Guardian article]