Computer hacker 'left note accusing US of terrorism'

A BRITON accused of hacking into the US military computer system left a note on an army computer saying that the foreign policy of the United States "is akin to government-sponsored terrorism", a court heard yesterday.

Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon, 39, faces extradition to the US over claims that he accessed 97 government computers over a one-year period causing $700,000 (370,000) worth of damage.

The allegations were made during the opening of McKinnon's extradition hearing at Bow Street Magistrates' Court.

His note continued: "It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11th last year ... I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels," the court was told.

One of the allegations relates to McKinnon deleting operating system files and logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle at a critical time following the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001, rendering the base's network of more than 300 computers inoperable. His ultimate goal was to gain access to the US military classified information network, the court heard.

McKinnon, of Wood Green, north London, is contesting the extradition request.

Mark Summers, for the US government, told the court: "During a period from February 2001 to March 2002, the defendant gained unauthorised access to 97 government computers. He was acting from his own computer in London.

"Via the internet, the defendant identified US government network computers with an open Microsoft Windows connection."

Mr Summers said McKinnon, having gained access to administrative accounts, installed unauthorised remote access and administration software named "remotely anywhere" that enabled him to remotely control and alter data on the US computers without detection.

McKinnon accessed 53 US army computers, 26 US navy computers, 16 NASA computers, one US defence department computer and one US air force computer. He is also accused of deleting files which shut down the entire US army's military district of Washington's network of more than 2,000 computers for 24 hours "significantly disrupting governmental function".

Mr Summers said: "The defendant's conduct was intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US government by intimidation and coercion."

McKinnon faces 20 charges including accessing computers, intending to steal computer files and data and stealing files from the army, navy and NASA.

It is also alleged he obtained secret passwords or information which might become "indirectly useful to an enemy" from the military as well as interfering with maritime navigation facilities in New Jersey.

McKinnon spoke only to confirm his name, and the hearing was adjourned until 18 October.

Speaking outside court, his solicitor, Karen Todner, said: "Gary McKinnon continues to vigorously contest his extradition, which has been requested belatedly by the US government."

She said her client faces a maximum possible sentence of 70 years in prison if he was found guilty in the US.

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