Nasa hacker loses final legal challenge

Nasa hacker loses final legal challenge

Summary: Gary McKinnon now faces deportation to the US to face charges of hacking Nasa and military installations

TOPICS: Security

Gary McKinnon has lost his legal challenge against extradition to the US to face charges of hacking Nasa and military installations.

McKinnon had applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for it to hear an appeal against his extradition. Under 'Rule 39', citizens can make an emergency application to halt extradition proceedings if they believe their human rights will be infringed upon.

McKinnon's legal team on Thursday sent out a statement saying his application had been denied. "Today the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Mr McKinnon's application for Rule 39 Interim Relief," the lawyers said on the statement.

Two weeks ago, McKinnon's legal team submitted his application to the ECHR. Under the terms of the application, the UK government could not extradite McKinnon. This legal block has now been lifted.

"The temporary prohibition of our client's extradition as granted by the ECHR on 12 August is now effectively lifted and the authorities of the United Kingdom are now free to extradite our client to the United States," the legal team said in the statement.

Karen Todner, McKinnon's solicitor, told on Thursday that McKinnon had run out of legal-challenge options. "In terms of legal challenges and court proceedings, we've gone as far as we can," Todner said.

However, Gary McKinnon has recently been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Todner said she had written to home secretary Jacqui Smith asking that McKinnon be tried in the UK on medical grounds.

"We've written to the Secretary of State asking her to reconsider and keep [McKinnon] in the country," said Todner. "We've asked for two weeks to put the medical evidence before her."

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Should that request be turned down by the Home Secretary, McKinnon could be extradited within two weeks. Todner said that it normally takes 10 days to sort out the flights. McKinnon would not be taken into custody — instead, Todner said that normally, the police contact the solicitor asking that the accused surrender to a police station a couple of hours before take-off.

Should McKinnon be found guilty of the charges laid against him, he faces up to 60 years in a US jail. McKinnon has admitted hacking into the US systems, but has always maintained he was searching for UFOs. "His family are distraught," Todner said.

Todner added that the alleged offences were committed on British soil, and that the prosecution should be carried out by the UK authorities. "Our client now faces the prospect of prosecution and imprisonment thousands of miles away from his family in a country in which he has never set foot," she said.

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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  • Its a Disgrace - Like Sending Someone for Trial in The Stalinist Purges

    Its an outrage that our government let our people go to this uncivilised revenge led country of utterly selfish and self absorbed people to go through its lynch mob style all the justice you can afford legal system - over a slight hack which risked no one. They looted us and every other country for years after WW2 and bomb our troops indiscriminatly when we help them, yet their government would never admit any wrong doing or surrender any of its citizens to our lousy but less vicious form of establishment rules, I won't call it justice because it rarely is.

    A disgrace, no chance of a fair trial for what is a technical offence of no real consequence or impact.

  • He is distraught

    Well at the end of the day he "broke into...hacked...gained access" call it what you will to classified systems, And he was caught, now he has to pay for that.
    If he had done this at a "physical premisis" and was caught he would face prosecution.
    If he broke into NASA buildings in the USA, he could have been shot...
    It's always excuses with these people, why cant they face up to what they do? he commited a criminal offence and now he has to face the he saying that he wouldn't have done this if he thought he could be tried in the US ???
    How much has it cost so far in legal fee's???
    Why should we be burdened with him in our courts and... if he is found guilty in our overcrowded jails???
    Sorry Mr Hacker... you are the weakest link... goodbye.
  • The Treaty Should Be Torn Up

    When is the USA goint to extradite all those IRA murderers they are harbouring in their own country and send them back to the UK for trial?:

    What sort of treaty is this when it only alows one-way traffic of suspects?