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British "UFO" Hacker Faces 70 Years In US Prison For Military Breaches


First Posted: 07-30-08 10:57 AM   |   Updated: 08- 7-08 05:12 AM

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The AP reports:

LONDON -- Britain's top court refused Wednesday to stop the extradition to the U.S. of a British hacker accused of breaking into Pentagon and NASA computers --something he claims to have done while hunting for information on UFOs.

Gary McKinnon, 42, faces charges in the United States for what officials say were a series of cyber attacks that stole passwords, attacked military networks and wrought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computer damage.

The decision by Britain's House of Lords --comparable to U.S. supreme court judges-- was his last legal option in this country, but his lawyer said she would appeal his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

"The consequences he faces if extradited are both disproportionate and intolerable and we will be making an immediate application to the European court to prevent his removal," Karen Todner said after McKinnon's appeal was rejected. "We believe that the British government declined to prosecute him to enable the U.S. government to make an example of him."

McKinnon's lawyers alleged that an American official had told him he would be forced to serve a lengthy sentence in the United States if he fought against his extradition, something they say amounted to an unlawful threat.

The five Law Lords were unanimous in deciding McKinnon had failed to prove his case.

McKinnon's supporters say they want him freed --or at least tried in Britain.

Prosecutors allege that McKinnon hacked into than 90 computer systems belonging to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA between February 2001 and March 2002, causing $900,000 worth of damage.

The Daily Mail called the hack the "biggest military hack of all time." Click here to read more.

[McKinnon's] lawyers, who claim he could be sent to Guantanamo Bay as a terrorist suspect, immediately announced they would appeal to the European Court to prevent him being taken from Britain.

They claim the case could have been brought in the UK but that the Government had chosen instead to stand back and let the US 'make an example of him'.

'Gary McKinnon is neither a terrorist nor a terrorist sympathiser. His case could have been properly dealt with by our own prosecuting authorities,' the lawyers said in a statement.

'Instead, we believe that the British Government declined to prosecute him to enable the US government to make an example of him. American officials involved in this case have stated that they want to see him "fry".
Filed by Dan Duray  |  Report Corrections