Nasa hacker has 'shut down', say protesters

Nasa hacker has 'shut down', say protesters

Summary: A protest has taken place outside the Home Office against the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US

TOPICS: Security

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  • A peaceful protest took place on Tuesday outside the Home Office on Marsham Street in London against the extradition of self-confessed Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon to the US. A group of approximately 35 people chanted slogans demanding McKinnon be tried in the UK.

    McKinnon was accused of one of the biggest military hacks ever, after he hacked into a series of sites belonging to the US Army, Air Force, Department of Defence and Nasa. The US government alleged that McKinnon's hacking activities caused $700,000 (£350,000) worth of damage. McKinnon has always maintained his activities were harmless, and that he was merely looking for evidence of UFOs.

    McKinnon had his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights turned down last week, and is due to be extradited to the US. If found guilty of the hacking charges in a US court, McKinnon could face up to 70 years in jail under US anti-terrorism legislation.

  • Karen Todner, McKinnon's solicitor, said on Tuesday that she was preparing a further legal challenge should representations to home secretary Jacqui Smith fail. Todner had previously made representations to the Home Office asking that McKinnon serve any sentence in the UK, given his recent diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.

    "It's the least that the Home Office could do," said Todner. "Both the Dutch and the Israelis ask for assurances from the US for all of their nationals, but this has never been covered in UK case law."

    Should the home secretary reject McKinnon's plea, Todner said she was preparing to apply to the High Court to prevent Gary's extradition, in the light of McKinnon's Asperger's diagnosis.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Mental illness not much of a defense in the US...

    I wouldn't hold out much hope that the Asperger's syndrome diagnosis is going to hold much sway in the US given that according to Amnesty International one in ten of the USA's 1,000-plus executed prisoners in the last 30 years suffered from mental illness.

    McKinnon obviously isn't facing execution but it doesn't bode well!
    Andrew Donoghue
  • The Home Office

    statement appears to be an exercise in Semantics and obfuscation.

    What else might we expect these days?

    Gary is just being thrown to the lions!
    The Former Moley
  • Mental (S)ill(i)ness on both sides of the pond.

    I have no idea what the "cracker" did or did not do. $700,000 of damage is BS when a $150 1TB hard-drive is likely all the backup space necessary to backup what he allegedly managed to hack into. It doesn't mean anything to a grand jury unless its got at least 5 zeros behind it. Look at all the drug busts with the inflated (or should I say puffed-up?) street values for confiscated drugs by the DEA.

    Some US Federal attorney general is looking for a political appointment or promotion perhaps.

    Asperger's Syndrome is hardly debilitating. It is the lightest of touches of autism. My nephew has Asperger's. He can function, he knows right from wrong. He gets up in the morning, makes his own breakfast and sits around his apartment and plays video games all day. He can function in society, he chooses not to. He could care less as long as people leave him alone. He doesn't join the rest of the family at holiday events. As a mental illness its annoying for everybody else around him. As far as he's concerned, he's fine and doesn't want to be "cured". It gets him out of having to accept any responsibility for his own mental state, his behavior or taking care of himself. He's not anti-social, he's asocial. I expect that some day he'll find himself in jail somewhere because he'll do something stupid to the wrong person.

    Asperger's is almost impossible to diagnose and has only in the last few years become a diagnosable condition even by mental health professionals. It's also practically impossible to successfully treat because they don't know exactly what causes it. The patient usually doesn't feel like he or she need to be cured so usually isn't motivated to keep up with the treatment regimen.

    If convicted, the one thing McKinnon will likely receive is as much mental health care as can be spent on him since he'll be a US Federal prisoner. They'll not likely let him use a computer. He'll probably become a model prisoner and may even like it in jail. US Federal prisoners do not get time reduced for good behavior or early parole, so he'll do the entire sentence. If he truly has Asperger's and gets 70 years, it may be the best thing for him. He will have a completely structured environment that is designed to minimize conflict and chaos.

    If they no-bill him or decide to treat him as a mentally ill person, he'll might even get sent home and the National Health can deal with him. Then every Federal case that will come up from now on, a large number of defendants will attempt to use Asperger's as defensible grounds for acquittal and try to get off, especially if its more of the same caseload, damn web crackers.

    So am I happy they are trying to extradite him? NO. Its my tax money that will be spent convicting and then keeping him locked up for a BS crime charge. I wonder if the judge will be IT trained enough to be able to read a monitor log or server access records? The people that should be convicted and jailed are the idiots that didn't secure their systems tight enough to keep him out in the first place. At the very least they should be sued for IT malpractice.
  • Hacker |Deportation

    I have no sympathy at all for him, funny how all of a sudden he has got Aspergers, didn't he have it before this ?
    He knew what he had done was wrong, he took the risks and he got caught out, even if he did confess to it. Stand up like a man and go and fight your case in the US, the only reason he wants the case heard here is because he knows he will get a lighter sentence. My vote is with the appeal court, go and face the music and stop making excuses..
    spermwhale 54