NASA hacker loses extradition fight

NASA hacker loses extradition fight

Summary: A judge at Bow Street Magistrates' Court ruled that Gary McKinnon must face a court in the US, but an appeal is likely

TOPICS: Security
Gary McKinnon has lost a crucial battle in his fight to avoid prosecution in the US on hacking charges after a judge ordered his extradition to America.

Judge Nicholas Evans, sitting at Bow Street Magistrates' Court, ruled on Wednesday morning that McKinnon must face US courts.

McKinnon, who lives in London, is accused of hacking into 53 US government computers, including some used by NASA, and causing $700,000 (£375,000) worth of damage.

Judge Evans rejected the defence argument that McKinnon would not face a fair trial in the US or that he risked being treated as a terrorist suspect.

"[Great Britain and America] have had extradition arrangements in place for over 150 years. I have no reason to believe that McKinnon will not receive fair treatment," said Judge Evans.

McKinnon was instructed that he must prepare himself to be flown to America next Wednesday. However, he is likely to appeal against the decision.

The final decision on whether McKinnon should be sent to the US for trial rests with Home Secretary John Reid.

McKinnon has admitted accessing US 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.

Topic: Security


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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  • Myles, shut up.
    Do you feel bigger just because he got caught, and you, according to your 'occupation', did not?
    I seriously question your background and capabilities based on that.

    But meaningless things aside, I believe the US is going to maul him to the full undocumented extents of their special laws. He might end up in Guantanamo Bay, or get a prison term he will not survive.
    What kind of lesson is that?
    Do you kill your dog because he ate your best pair of shoes?
    From what i've read so far, the US government and all it's IT infrastructure is a complete joke. And to think those systems are heavily relied upon for 'protecting' their precious country and all it stands for, while knowingly letting security age too far and acting tough towards anyone who opposes them.
    McKinnon does not deserve to be treated as a terrorist. Terrorists plant bombs, hijack planes, murder out an entire restaurant full of people, take hostages, have large amounts of explosives and firearms. All McKinnon had was himself, time, knowledge and a computer. Gee, dangerous. The US could learn a thing or two from him instead. And how come the other hackers were not caught? what's up with that then?
  • Extradition was so that people could be RETURNED to the country where they commited a serious crime. This chap hasn't been there and it certainly isn't serious when compared to real crime. As is demonstrated by the quick result as ooposed to the normal 10 plus years extradition process for serious crime offenders
    We should tell the US where to get off in this instance, but unfortunately this government and their experts know even less about IT and IT systems than the Americans.
  • Refuse to take your passport, some jobsworth will send you straight back.
  • if you cant do the time, dont do the crime.

  • Have a look at the BBC website. There's an interview where he admits to what he did and how he did it. Then ask yourselves this question:Who runs this country? Our elected government or the US?
  • Ofcourse this gives hope to the idea that if in some time in the future the US adopts crazy patent, DRM, IP, anti-terror or whatever laws enough UK citizens will be available to be extradited as well.

    Given that not many UK citizens will be up-to-date with various specific US laws. But plenty of UK citizens will be interacting with US systems and data. And therefor US laws as well. So it seems.
  • This guy is probably bang on in his expectation of having zero chance of a fair hearing, Virginia is ultra conservative (as in, BNP levels of right wingedness). Its also possible, indeed probably fairly likely that he'll end up being tried under anti terrorism legislation, by a military tribunal at camp x ray...

    Its interesting to note various verdicts over the past few weeks - Real terrorists, who hyjack planes and come over here from Afganistan, are granted asylum to stay, a guy walks into an essentially open computer system in the US, who is clearly derranged (I'm sorry, UFO's? Come off it) gets extradited to a country who has been proven to Torture and Kidnap anyone it pleases in the name of Terrorism Prevention, who has payed third party states to torture people on its behalf, that is run by a government with strong fundamentalist theocratic sympathies... I mean seriously, WTF?
  • indy, before shooting your mouth off learn to use correct grammar, you don't need IT'S when using the possessive!

    Anyway Indy, if you knew who i was you wouldn't have said what you did.

    You don't so im good with that, half an iota of information can create great fallacies.

    Still, this case is exactly the type of thing that shows you how out of date the world's laws really are.

    The person is in england and did the crimes from England yet the actual crime happened in America. There is a grey line here, was the crime committed in england or america?

    I still stand by my statement though, if you can't do the time don't do the crime. He might have been only looking for UFO evidence but would anyone with half a thought for keep UFO evidence on a publicly accessable server? Look at milw0rm back in the 90s, they hacked Barc, an Indian Nuclear Research centre, on that publicly accessible server was nuclear test data, surely the yanks would have learned from that one? They are not that stupid are they?