Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Accused British hacker with Asperger's to be extradited to USA

From Reuters August 27:

LONDON - A British computer expert accused by the United States of "the biggest military hack of all time" lost an appeal on August 28 and could be extradited within weeks.

Gary McKinnon, 42, (pictured left) had asked the European Court of Human Rights to block his extradition to the United States, complaining that he could face inhumane prison conditions if convicted there. The court rejected the appeal.

McKinnon could face up to 70 years in prison if convicted in America of illegally accessing computers, including those of the Pentagon, U.S. army, navy and NASA, and causing $700,000 (381,134 pounds) worth of damage.

"The appeal is lost," said Karen Todner, of Kaim Todner solicitors, representing McKinnon. "He is completely distraught, all of them are, his family, his girlfriend."

Todner said her client would now appeal to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to try to persuade her to reconsider an earlier decision and prosecute her client in the United Kingdom.

"Failing that he will be extradited ... probably within the next three weeks," Todner added. She said her client had recently been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and hoped Smith would take this information into account.

McKinnon lost his appeal in July to Britain's highest court to block extradition to face charges in the United States.

He told Reuters in 2006 he was just a computer nerd who wanted to find out whether aliens really existed and became obsessed with trawling large military networks for proof.

His lawyers have argued that sending him to the United States would breach his human rights because he could be prosecuted on account of his nationality or political opinions.