NASA hacker to speak at security show

Gary McKinnon will be joined by other hackers and security experts on a panel discussion at the Infosecurity conference this month

Gary McKinnon faces the prospect of an indefinite stay in Guantanamo Bay, but this won't prevent him from appearing on a panel discussing hacking at a UK security conference, it was revealed on Thursday.

The NASA hacker is currently fighting extradition to the US in what has been a protracted trial. He is charged with gaining unauthorised access to 97 US government computers, including machines belonging to NASA and the US Department of Defense. He claims he was searching for evidence of UFOs.

McKinnon appeared at Bow Street Magistrate's Court on Wednesday for an extradition hearing. His defence argued that he should not be extradited as he could be tried under America's tough anti-terrorism laws. This could see him sent to Guantanamo Bay and imprisoned for up to 60 years.

The prosecution produced an unsigned note from the US Embassy, which they claimed was a guarantee that McKinnon would not be tried under Military Order Number One. The Order allows suspected terrorists to be tried under military law, or held indefinitely without trial under the orders of the US president.

The defence argued that the diplomatic note was not legally binding as it had not been signed. "It's not worth the paper it's written on," McKinnon said outside the court.

McKinnon will be joined on the panel by Robert Schifreen, who in 1985 became the first person ever to be tried by a jury in connection with computer hacking.

Schifreen broke into the BT Prestel network at system manager level and accessed an account belonging to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. He was charged with forgery, but ultimately acquitted by the House of Lords after legal proceedings which lasted three years. The Computer Misuse Act came into force in 1990, which outlaws the unauthorised modification of computer systems.

Also appearing on the panel will be security expert Bob Ayers, who had a 29-year career with the US Department of Defense. His principal IT security related assignment was with the Defense Intelligence Agency where he served as chief of the Intelligence Information System Computer Security Program.

Ayers will be joined by open source Web application security expert Ivan Ristic.

The panel will kick off at 1445 BST at Infosecurity Europe on the 27 April in London.