[ISN] Computer hacker will be extradited to US, rules Home Office

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Fri Jul 7 05:30:56 EDT 2006


7 July 2006

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

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

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

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

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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