British hacker loses High Court extradition appeal

Gary McKinnon, a British hacker who is accused of hacking into secret military and NASA computers has lost his latest High Court bid to avoid extradition to the United States.

Appeals

Gary McKinnon is alleged to have illegally accessed computers belonging to the Pentagon, NASA and the U.S. Army and Navy in 2001 and 2002. The US wants to try the 43-year-old for what it claims to be "the biggest military computer hack of all time". McKinnon has lost series of appeals varying from the European Court of Human Rights right up to appealing directly to the British Home Secretary. It will now be decided whether the appeal can be heard at the UK Supreme Court.

McKinnon is appealing against being extradited to the US to be tried for the charges. His lawyers argue the extradition is un-necessary and avoidable. McKinnon suffers from asperger's syndrome and had argued this should be taken into consideration against his extradition.

Hacking

McKinnon first began his hacking into US Army and Navy computers between 2001 and 2002. During this time it is argued by McKinnon's defense that he was only trying to find information on UFO discoveries. If extradited to the US he could face up to 70 years in prison. US prosecutors claim he has caused $800,000 worth of damage from his hacking attempts.

Calling out to Obama

Speaking outside the High Court this morning, his mother, Janis Sharp, said ""Obama wouldn't have this. He doesn't want the first guy extradited for computer misuse to be a guy with Asperger's, a UFO guy. He wouldn't want this. I'm just praying, please hear us, Obama, because I know you would do the right thing," she added.

It's likely that this was the last appeal for McKinnon, he has appealed unsuccessfully to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights. Unless the UK government or Barrack Obama step in then it's likely that McKinnon will be tried in the US.

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The point is not whether he is guilty (he is) or whether he should be punished (he should), but whether he should be extradited based on his medical condition (he shouldn't)

I don't think he deserves maybe more than a few years in prison or a crapload of hardcore community service or the like. He needs to be extradited back here and needs to admit/confess in court over the crime(s). Yes he has already admitted to doing it, but it needs to be done in a court of record. It *still* kills me that people think it matters what he was looking for -- it doesn't change the fact that he broke/hacked/accessed/whatever into those systems, systems he had *zero, z-e-r-o, 0* legal reason/access to be in. It wouldn't have mattered if he was looking for a cookie recipe.

I don't understand why it took 3 years after he got into their networks for the U.S to file for extradition. They should be honouring him for exposing their slack security procedures, would they have preferred if a terrorist had snuck in

JJ_ said,
I don't understand why it took 3 years after he got into their networks for the U.S to file for extradition. They should be honouring him for exposing their slack security procedures, would they have preferred if a terrorist had snuck in

Hear hear!

Good luck with that appeal for Obama to intercede...he may have a better chance of being abducted by the aliens or the UFOs he was supposedly looking for then getting a commutation from the President

Think he deserves to face the music. Won't happen anytime soon though, there are at least two more appeals to go through which will likely take another few years.

As for the US never extraditing, according to the BBC they do in about 70% of cases v 90% from the UK to the US.

m.keeley said,
Think he deserves to face the music. Won't happen anytime soon though, there are at least two more appeals to go through which will likely take another few years.

As for the US never extraditing, according to the BBC they do in about 70% of cases v 90% from the UK to the US.

Heck, we just sent an old guy back to Germany to be tried. He had much more serious medical conditions than this man

ncoday said,
Heck, we just sent an old guy back to Germany to be tried. He had much more serious medical conditions than this man

He is alleged to be a German Nazi scumbag, and have murdered 1000's of innocent people. Not expose massive weaknesses in the most powerful Country on Earth's computer system!

artnada said,
Not expose massive weaknesses in the most powerful Country on Earth's computer system!

Most powerful what? they wish.

The US government is not going to hire an international, especially with the down economy at the moment. Plus all he did was try to gain access to accounts which had no password attached (see article). Its like logging into the Admin account of your machine while in safe mode... no password. Anyone could do this.

Conjor said,
The US government is not going to hire an international, especially with the down economy at the moment. Plus all he did was try to gain access to accounts which had no password attached (see article). Its like logging into the Admin account of your machine while in safe mode... no password. Anyone could do this.

You can set a password..

I'm sick of hearing about this guy and his stupid mental "condition." The longer they keep dragging this crap out and making news of it, the sweeter it's going to be when he finally gets locked up in an American jail.

He wasn't the first to do it and by no means will he be the last, instead of looking to unjustly prosecute this man, how about they work on improving there apparently lapse security? just a thought

TSO said,
He wasn't the first to do it and by no means will he be the last, instead of looking to unjustly prosecute this man, how about they work on improving there apparently lapse security? just a thought :)

oh come off it. everyone visiting a site like neowin knows that the more they try and full proof it, the more people will poke, prod, and attempt to break it. you're right, there should be no unjust prosecution (not that chugworth has any say), but a system being broken does not mean it wasn't a good one.

Chugworth said,
I'm sick of hearing about this guy and his stupid mental "condition." The longer they keep dragging this crap out and making news of it, the sweeter it's going to be when he finally gets locked up in an American jail.

What you fail to see here, is the significant impact a condition such as his has on his physiological state.

I am certain if you learnt more about the condition, you would not wish it upon yourself.

No one but the US are 'dragging' it out; they decided to file for him to be extradited relatively late in the case.

I seriously don't understand why he can't be tried in a UK court under the computer misuse act. The illegal act took place in the UK against the US.

Yes he should be tried in the UK for crimes under the computer misuse act. The crime took place from his computer, at his property in Scotland, wasn't aware that was in the US!??!?!? It's not as if the guy was a terrorist planning on stealing military data and selling it on for gain, or using that knowledge to blow stuff up safely :)

Was what he did illegal yes, do the charges and the probable prison sentence he'd get if he was tried i the US match this crime?? - Hell NO!! The sentence will be completely disproportianate, there is no way a US Government agency (as big as this one) is going to allow any person to not be prosecuted within every letter of the law and pushed hard too.

Yes he was wrong but no way should he be tried in the US. The post 9/11 extradition treaty is biased against the UK and it's ******** basically. What's happening is the US are saying this man did it he admitted it hand him over. But according to the treaty they don't have to prove it, they have an idea someone did something, hand them over. On the flip side hey US, Scotland Yard have reason to believe that Joe Bloggs from Kansas has been hacking UK Govt systems can we have him please? - US DOJ do you have any proof, no f*** off then!

We don't belong to the US and shouldn't bow to this bully boy tactic, he broke a law yes, aided by pi** poor security, he looked at files, he caused no damage, he didn't delete files, users access or generally cause chaos, the $800k USD claims is crap. Everyone knows when a company is breached they can practically slap any figure on they like. There is no way someone looking at files they are not supposed to cost that much.

oh please dont try to use aspergers syndrome as a defense as he knew it was bad yet trying to avoid punishment with something that he could control and i know what aspergers syndrome is and he should face the music for what he did and hacking is bad and should face the full 70 years behind bars and with no computer use whatsoever as he abused it to the point of doing a bad act with it unless they give him some options like get him a security job but do it in jail somewhere.

soldier1st said,
oh please dont try to use aspergers syndrome as a defense as he knew it was bad yet trying to avoid punishment with something that he could control and i know what aspergers syndrome is and he should face the music for what he did and hacking is bad and should face the full 70 years behind bars and with no computer use whatsoever as he abused it to the point of doing a bad act with it unless they give him some options like get him a security job but do it in jail somewhere.

Clearly, you know nothing with regards to the physiological impact a condition such as his has on his ability to reason - he stated that he acted out of "moral obligations" - he really believed that what he was doing was right.

Indeed, his actions were wrong, he admitted that he should not have 'hacked' and apologised. He didn't actually hack, but used "blank password checking", as he stated.

Again, a possible sentence of 70 years is completely over the top, and certainly not deserved. It was wrong for him to 'hack' but at the same time, extraditing him to the US would have a severe impact on his mental health; it is far better to sentence him in the UK, where a fairer trial can be held.

His condition should be further taken into account.

okay this is crazy you have to look at it like this, obviously the guy has a disorder. However broke into very sensitive government computers of another country, not his own country.. not a friends computer... but U.S. government computers. Now disorder or not at some point in him doing that either he should have known he was doing something wrong or if his disorder is that bad off he should be closly monitored at what he does and someone else should be accountable. If he cant tell the difference from right and wrong then he should be treated as that and his mother whose begging for him to be excused should be charged. Point being, if he didnt know it was wrong the first time whats to stop him from trying again later after he gets his slap on the wrists from his government. Now i agree 70 years in prison is completely outrageous but he targeted the U.S. so the U.S. should be the ones to set punishment reguardless of if he was looking for UFO information or not. The information he was seeking was secret and is hidden for a reason he has no right to go off looking for it and although its been years since 9/11 he's very lucky they havent pushed this as a terrorist type crime. No one truely knows if he was only looking for UFO information or if he would have stopped after getting that information for sure, I think its a coverup. My opinion alone is that this disease he supposedly has is probably a coverup as well to guilt the U.S. out of thier rights to charge him. If the same guy with the same disease broke into the U.S. computers under the same circumstances yet said he was plotting a terrorist attack rather than looking up 'UFO information' would those of you defending him due to his illness still defend him?

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