Briton who hacked into Pentagon faces extradition

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A British man accused of the "biggest military hack of all time" has lost the first round of his battle against extradition to the US.

Gary McKinnon, 40, from Wood Green in north London, faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted in the US of sabotaging defence systems.

His lawyers had argued that he could be sent to Guantanamo Bay as a terrorist suspect - despite claiming to have only accessed Pentagon computers to find information about UFOs.

But at Bow Street magistrates' court yesterday District Judge Nicholas Evans dismissed the objections as "fanciful", and ruled Mr McKinnon should be recommended for extradition. He now has six weeks to make representations before the Home Secretary makes a decision on his fate.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr McKinnon portrayed himself as an amateur hacker who used a dial-up modem to access sensitive government networks from his bedroom.

Among the most serious charges are that he deleted system files and logs at US naval weapon station Earle in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September attacks, rendering the base's entire network of more than 300 computers inoperable.

Mr McKinnon, who was released on conditional bail, said he "regretted" his actions, but insisted he had been motivated only by curiosity and had not caused any damage.

Mr Evans said he rejected the idea that Mr McKinnon's right to private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights should prevent his extradition. "It must be obvious to any defendant that if you choose to commit a crime in a foreign country, you run the risk of being prosecuted in that country."