NASA hacker loses extradition fight

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

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.