Computer hacker will be extradited to US, rules Home Office
A SCOT accused of the "biggest military hack of all time" will be extradited to the United States, the Home Office confirmed last night.
Gary McKinnon, originally from Glasgow, faces more than 50 years in prison if convicted in the US of sabotaging vital defence systems, including networks owned by NASA and the country's army, navy and air force.
The 40-year-old has two weeks to appeal the order, which was approved by John Reid, the Home Secretary on Tuesday.
A judge ruled in May that McKinnon, who has been indicted in New Jersey and northern Virginia, should be sent to the US to face trial. However, the decision required Mr Reid's authorisation.
McKinnon allegedly accessed a network of 300 computers at the Earle Naval Weapons Station in New Jersey.
US estimates claim the costs of tracking and correcting the problems he allegedly caused were around $700,000 (400,000).
McKinnon last night said he was planning to appeal the decision. He added: "I am very worried and feeling very let down by my own government."
McKinnon accused of hacking into 97 United States military and NASA computers between 2001 and 2002.
Lawyers for McKinnon had argued he could even be sent to Guantanamo Bay as a terrorist suspect - despite claiming to have only accessed Pentagon computers looking for information about UFOs.
He has claimed that he was not a malicious hacker bent on bringing down US military systems, but rather more of a "bumbling computer nerd".
But the former hairdresser lost the first round of his battle against extradition in May, when District Judge Nicholas Evans at Bow Street Magistrates' Court dismissed these objections as "fanciful".
Speaking after that hearing, McKinnon vowed to continue resisting attempts to remove him from the country.
He portrayed himself as an amateur hacker who used a dial-up modem to access sensitive government networks from his bedroom in Wood Green, north London.
He said: "I was amazed at the lack of security and the reason I left not just one note but multiple notes on multiple desktops was to say: look, this is ridiculous. My intention was never to disrupt security."
Among the most serious charges are that McKinnon deleted system files and logs at the New Jersey naval base in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September, 2001, attacks, rendering its entire network of more than 300 computers inoperable.
After the hearing in May, McKinnon said he "regretted" his actions but insisted he had been motivated only by curiosity and had not caused any damage.
Solo, as he was known online, was originally arrested under the Computer Misuse Act by the UK National Hi-Tech Crime Unit in 2002. However, he was never charged in Britain.
• The Conservatives yesterday issued an appeal for the "NatWest Three" to be tried in Britain rather than being sent to the US to face American justice over their alleged role in an Enron fraud.
The party's legal affairs spokesman Dominic Grieve wrote to Attorney General Lord Goldsmith warning that the threatened extradition of the three bankers risked bringing the criminal justice system into disrepute.
David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew, the son of Labour MSP Trish Godman, and Giles Darby are accused of an 11 million fraud in which their former employees NatWest were advised to sell part of an Enron company for less than it was worth.
The three men deny any criminal conduct and have always insisted that if there was a case against them it should be tried in England because that is where they live and where the alleged offences took place.
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