Nasa hacker's appeal begins

Nasa hacker's appeal begins

Summary: Gary McKinnon's defence lawyers claim he was offered a deal by US authorities, as his appeal against extradition begins

TOPICS: Security

Gary McKinnon, the UK citizen accused of breaking into and damaging Nasa's computers began his appeal against extradition to the US on Tuesday.

Edmund Lawson, QC, who is defending McKinnon, told a hearing at London's High Court that McKinnon faced up to 60 years' imprisonment if he was convicted in America, where he could be tried under its anti-terrorism legislation.

Lawson also revealed that McKinnon had been offered a deal by US authorities, under which he would receive a shorter sentence if he stopped fighting extradition. This offer had been rejected, and constituted an "improper approach" to McKinnon, Lawson claimed.

McKinnon is accused of illegally hacking into 97 US government computers in 2001 and 2002, causing $700,000 worth of damage. In an interview with ZDNet UK, McKinnon admitted accessing the computers as part of his search for evidence of extraterrestrial life, but denied deliberately doing any damage.

Back in May 2006, a British judge ruled that McKinnon should be extradited to the US to face these charges.

The appeal is continuing on Wednesday, and may run into Thursday. If he loses, McKinnon is expected to try and appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

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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  • What did he see....

    that could warrant such a severe set of charges? Surely, viewing data on US government computers that were not even password protected could not do serious damage.

    According to an interview with McKinnon, he stumbled upon an excel document entitled, "Extra-terrestrial Officers" and listed names and ranks of military personnel. It seems he has uncovered evidence of an above top secret program of a military presence in space. A Lunar Base perhaps? There must be more US activity besides the publicised NASA missions to have an extra-terrestrial officer corps.

    It seems the US government is making an example of him to discourage other embarrassing disclosures by hacking into their data bases. It surely would be advisable to at least password protect this data, if it is that secret.
  • complete bullshit

    this is a lie. i know many hackers and we all laughed when the guy said he used 'remotely anywhere' to hack in. for the IT dorks out there it sounds sophisticated, but people who are admins out there know that is just big bullshit.

    btw, if you see something of that importance, then you share it with people and don't be a prick and say 'i can't talk about that'.

    anyhow, if not for hacking in (which the guy made up), then at least i'd like to see him sentenced for 20 years simply for not sharing the information with the rest of the world.

  • all on dialup as well !

    an interview on uk tv he said he was using dial up as not broadband was not out that much, he also said it took ages for pictures to come down, one of which he said he had seen an object not man made with round ball like things on it orbiting the earth, the pictures where taken from shuttle or ISS.
    so how did he know it was not man made and it was possible from the discription it was one of the american spy satellites.

    but i still think it was bull shite!

    by the way i was on broadband at this time, and loads of people could have had it via the telephone network or cable, but he could have been in an area whos exchange may not have been changes. :-)
    link to the interview below
  • Why Are We Even Debating this

    Its only Blair that really is pushing for this as part of his support for his selfish warmonger bully friends in the US.

    Why our courts would even consider that justice is available to anyone in the US under these laws and the current regime beats me.

    These are the guys who also run Guantanamo and think its OK, with a domestic justice system designed to favour the rich while gunning down, beating and executing the badly defended poor following show trials which for the poor are not be much better than a kangaroo court with a veneer of justice through due process. Really its a upgraded vengeance based wild west lynch mob legal system for all but the rich.

    And we want to send one of our people there?

    This is just "not so extreme" rendition on exagerated charges to cover up their own stupidity in leaving the door open. The laws being applied are totally inappropriate to the actual offence. Our extradition law needs to be changed so it recognises proportionality and justice in the extraditing state and we should anyway distance ourselves from this morally bankrupt relationship and get closer to Europe - where a sense of justice and fair play still has a bit of resonance.

    First we have to dump our own morally bankrupt regime which passes the laws which allow this to happen.

    BTW I suspect a number of these extra terrestrial officers currently serve in Bush's administration. Take a careful look at Cheney and Rumsfeld... can you see the joins?

  • Scapegoat.

    Whatever you think of McKinnon and his claims, you have to feel for his predicament. He has offered himself up to these courts, but that is not good enough.. At massive expense to the taxpayer and another bigger blow to civil liberties- this is just another case of scapegoatery... I can tell you for fact that he was not the only person in those systems.. yet magically he is the only one being prosecuted...

    I have been in his shoes... but the climate was right for me... they didnt want me extradited as badly.. I could only be "possibly the biggest threat to world peace since adolf hilter".. and most people of that time could see through the propaganda.. WIth the political climate what it is now, it seems that gary's fate is worth a lot more to the system than mine...

    Just think, behind the headlines there is a real person, someone whose crime was curiosity and boredom.. He is being dragged around from court to court.. that kind of pressure is destructive.... He had admitted his guilt, this should have been dealt with years ago in this country, by a jury of his peers..

    Mathew "Kuji" Bevan