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UK court rules alleged hacker may be extradited to US

[JURIST] The High Court in London ruled [judgment text] Friday that a man accused of hacking US government computers in 2001 and 2002 may be extradited to the US for prosecution. This is the latest in a series of failed appeals by systems analyst Gary McKinnon [BBC profile; advocacy website], who was arrested by British police in 2002 and indicted [text, PDF] by US authorities later that year on charges of hacking NASA, Department of Defense, Air Force, Army, and Navy computers in violation of US computer laws [18 USC 1030 text]. The British government granted the 2005 US extradition request, but McKinnon's lawyer appealed, alleging that US authorities had told McKinnon that if he did not plead guilty to the charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison since each of the seven counts against him is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine [indictment press release]. McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, lost an appeal [JURIST report] to the UK Law Lords last July. He filed a new appeal, asking the Secretary of State to consider new evidence as to his mental condition. The Secretary of State denied his appeal, and the court declined to overturn that decision.

In 2006, a UK court recommended [JURIST report] that the government extradite McKinnon to the US. His lawyers appealed, but, in 2007, High Court judges ruled [judgment text] that there were no grounds for appeal. McKinnon has not denied the charges against him but has said that he was motivated by a desire to uncover "hidden technology" capable of benefiting all of mankind and evidence of UFOs, which he claims is being suppressed by the US military.

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