British hacker steps closer to US extradition

A UK court yesterday approved the extradition to the US of a British man accused of hacking into systems belonging to the Pentagon and NASA.

40-year-old Gary McKinnon from North London is alleged to have hacked into computer systems belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA and viewed and deleted data between February 2001 and March 2002. He is alleged to have caused more than $700,000 in damage.

McKinnon admitted to installing software on systems to give him remote access to them.

Judge Nicholas Evans ruled in Bow Street Magistrates’ Court yesterday that extradition would not infringe his human rights. His case will now come under the consideration of Home Secretary John Reid.

The US applied for extradition after British authorities decided not to prosecute, as the offences had taken place overseas.

McKinnon admitted to has led a high-profile campaign to avoid such an outcome. He claims that the systems he accessed were not properly protected and that his activities were not malicious. He says he was researching into evidence of anti-gravity propulsion systems and extra-terrestrial technologies. He suggests that it was his viewing of an image depicting what he described as a UFO was what motivated the authorities to see him in court.

He claims that he could be sent to Guantanamo Bay and tried by a military court under the US legal system. However, the US has already said that McKinnon will stand trial in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Prior to the hearing McKinnon said he would appeal and remains on bail.

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