Nasa hacker loses bid to avoid extradition

Nasa hacker loses bid to avoid extradition

Summary: Gary McKinnon now has 28 days to launch an appeal to avoid being sent to the U.S. to face charges for allegedly breaking into 97 U.S. government computers and intentionally causing damage.

TOPICS: Security, CXO, Hardware
Gary McKinnon has lost his high court bid to avoid extradition to the US for hacking into military systems in that country.

McKinnon had tried to argue that former home secretary, Jacqui Smith, was wrong in law to push for the extradition despite his diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, and that the director of public prosecutions was also wrong to opt for extradition despite having sufficient evidence to prosecute McKinnon here in the UK.

However, Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie dismissed both claims on Friday. McKinnon now has 28 days to launch an appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice. According to his solicitor, Karen Todner, McKinnon and his legal team will also appeal to the Law Lords, and Todner has made a fresh approach to President Obama.

"I have today sent a letter to President Barack Obama signed by 40 members of a cross parliamentary group of MPs asking him to step in to bring this shameful episode to an end," Todner said in a statement on Friday. "It is a sad state of affairs if this government cannot protect our most vulnerable of citizens."

In her statement, Todner also referred to the judges' decision as "inhumane" and "an affront to British Justice".

The decision comes almost seven years after McKinnon, from North London, was indicted by the US Department of Justice in November 2002. He was charged with intentionally damaging a federal computer system, and with breaking into 97 computers belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, US Department of Defense and Nasa.

McKinnon has never denied the hacks, although his legal team has disputed the cost of the damage he allegedly caused — around $700,000 (£500,000), according to US authorities. The Londoner said he had been looking for suppressed evidence of extraterrestrial life, and pointed out the poor security that had been applied to the affected systems.

The case has had ramifications beyond the hacks themselves, as it has drawn attention to the extradition treaty that exists between the UK and the US. The US can demand a suspect be extradited from the UK without probable cause, but no such arrangement exists in the other direction.

McKinnon has also been diagnosed by the autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen with Asperger's Syndrome, a disorder on the autistism spectrum. If he is convicted in the US, McKinnon faces up to 70 years in a maximum security federal prison, and his legal team has argued that, given his condition, this situation would put him at risk of psychosis or even suicide.

Politicians and celebrities have rallied behind McKinnon, arguing that he should serve any potential sentence here in the UK, rather than in the US.

This article was originally posted on ZDNet UK.

Topics: Security, CXO, Hardware

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  • No pity

    Here's how to not get in trouble with the law: don't break it.
  • RE: Nasa hacker loses bid to avoid extradition

    Make an example of this idiot, harshest punishment possible.
    • I don't agree...

      While I do agree he needs to punished, I do also agree with their defense in the sense that too harsh a punishment could drive him to suicide.

      I have a relative that has Aasberger's Syndrome and as frustrating as it is, I could see that outcome when being locked into one place for so long. I think he needs to be tried and convicted but his sentence should take AS into effect.
      • Asbergers defense...

        If his Asbergers wasn't enough to prevent him from hacking NSA, then he's got enough higher functionality to cop with prison. Sorry, I have very little tolerance for, "I can do the crime, but I'm too fragile to be punished for it." His family knew of his condition, and they didn't make sure he wouldn't get into trouble. It's not our fault he broke the law.

        Plus - there is no evidence he'll get the max and be suicidal. He could get 5 years in club fed with Obamacare treatig his Asbergers (maybe he SHOULD stay in England). And if he does offhimself in jail, it's STILL on him. He broke the law and damaged NSA property. TFB!
  • Stupid Defense

    So if I have security systems in place, albeit at a poor level, that makes it OK for someone to hack my network?!?!?! That's the worse defense I've ever heard...
  • RE: Nasa hacker loses bid to avoid extradition

    getting what he deserves...had he physically killed someone would he be looking at a less harsher sentence because of his illness? Not!
    Commit the crime do the time, no pass, no go, no fine!!!
  • what about the rights of Dr. Michael Savage?

    Karen Todner said in a statement on Friday. "It is a sad state of affairs if this government cannot protect our most vulnerable of citizens."

    Well, then how does she feel about the American radio commentator Doctor Michel Savage whom the British government has banned from entering the country? The government put Dr. Savage on a list of known terrorists and murderers because of polital comments he made on his radio program. Shades of George Orwell's "1984" - we now have Thought Police.

    Terry Thomas
    Professional Photographer
    Atlanta, Georgia USA