April 12, 2006 12:17 PM PDT

Alleged NASA hacker to hear fate next month

LONDON--A British former systems administrator who faces extradition to the U.S. if convicted of hacking American military computers will learn his fate next month.

Gary McKinnon appeared in court in London on Wednesday, in the latest stage in a protracted legal process. His defense has argued that he should not be extradited, as he could be tried under the tough antiterrorism laws in the U.S., sent to Guantanamo Bay and imprisoned for up to 60 years.

On Wednesday, the prosecution produced an unsigned note from the U.S. Embassy, which they claimed was a guarantee that McKinnon would not be tried under Military Order No. 1, which allows suspected terrorists to be tried under military law.

However, the defense argued that the note was not signed and therefore not binding. The defense called Clive Stafford-Smith, a U.S. lawyer who has defended Guantanamo Bay inmates, as a witness. Stafford-Smith argued that the note would not prevent McKinnon from being treated as a terrorist.

"(U.S. President Bush) has a very strong view that he has legislative authority that is not trammeled by the legislature," Stafford-Smith said.

McKinnon also indicated that he wasn't convinced that the unsigned note would protect him. "It's not worth the paper it's written on," he said outside the court.

The case was adjourned until May 10, when a final decision will be made on whether McKinnon can be extradited.

McKinnon is charged with illegally accessing 97 U.S. government computers, run by NASA and the U.S. military, and causing $700,000 worth of damage over a 12-month period starting in February 2001.

McKinnon, from North London, has admitted that he accessed some U.S. military computers, but has denied causing serious damage. The UFO enthusiast has claimed that he was searching through government systems for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
fate, defense, London, hacking, note


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Terrorist? Whatever!
Ok so the US Government thinks this guy is a terrorist? Give me a break. Since when is hacking considered terrorism? What if he hacked Amazon, Yahoo or Ebay would he also be considered a terrorist? 60 years in Guantanamo seems a tad excessive. Have him pay the money back and maybe go to civilian prison for a few years, but Guantanamo, come on!
Posted by Dave_Brown (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bad comparisons
Your comparing hacking a e-commerce site to hacking a government sanctioned network with top-secret information. Do you really think that they're the same?! ***...

Please, do us all a favor and just unplug your computer and throw it out the window. That is the worst comparison I've ever heard.
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
Hack Amazon?????
You twit, Amazon or the like do not house sensitive national documents.... This moron should end up in Guantanamo... What gives this jackass the immunity to play with systems which may supervise serious orbital / navigational, or even icbm defense systems? How the hell do you compare a commercial entity to an entity embedded in National Security. I agree there may be "some" type of information in "some" system that "someone" may be able to have "someone" else interpret as "somekind" of proof that ther may be "some" other life "somewhere" When this idiot knowingly accessed US government computers sans authorization he knew what was going to happen, If he was intelligent enough to gain access, He should have been smart enough to know why NOT to carry through...Twit
Posted by Gorthax (3 comments )
Link Flag
Only 60 years?
With the "Patriot" act now being permanent, the US
"war on terror" is also officially permanent. So he
could probably be held in Guantanamo or in one of
the secret eastern European prisons for life without
being charged.
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Terrorist my eye.
While there will always be some rabid freeper halfwits who want to stick everyone who jaywalks in Gitmo for life, what they fail to realise is that, while they're busy trying to deny everyone else's basic rights, they're destroying their own as well.

This hacker did what hundreds have done before and few of them got more than slaps on the wrist or short prison sentences and fines. Now, because of the phony 'War on Terror' (which has been such a success so far - Osama bin who?), the government thinks it can fool us into believing it's got a grip on the situation by throwing a few soft targets in jail for life.

The sooner the Bushbots realise they've been had for the past five years and start working to restore the foundations of due process and justice upon which America was found, the better it will be for us all.

Or do we have to wait for the Chimperor to nuke Iran before the message gets across?
Posted by JFDMit (180 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bush...Good for planting, NOT as a leader!

Facinating to see that there are people with brains and personal intelligence that does not fall for the same old lies as king george creates.

How many people must die or rot in Gitmo before the people DEMAND our leaders follow the law and OUR orders?

This is not a nation run by dictators(yet), but if something isn't done soon, it will be as it's only a matter of time before voting is restricted or denied to all.

The more people that sit in prison, the less are 'allowed' to vote, and EVERYBODY has the RIGHT TO VOTE, this is NOT a privilege as bush assumes it is, and it can NOT be denied either!

How can anybody blindly trust this moron that made the claim that the constitution is just a G** D****D piece of paper???

That surely sounds of TREASON to me, especially since he MUST take the OATH of ofice BEFORE he can be president, his remark should have set off alarms nationwide then, and he should be rotting in prison for the same 60 years, like he loves to do to others!

When he swore to uphold and defend the constitution, this meant for his entire term, and not only for the length of time it took to be sworn in.

George MUST be placed in prison for his CRIMES against the U.S.A.

Usurpation of ANY rights retained by the people, by any branch of government MUST be punished with LIFE IN PRISON for TREASON!

Nothing less will suffice!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^<---Was that NOT the battle cry for FREEDOM once?

Let's make certain the government NEVER treads on OUR rights or freedoms, it never had the power to do so, nor was it ever granted total power over the people, but after 9/11, we allowed our government to lie cheat and steal from us on a whim, and it has cost US livess because of it!

The line must be drawn HERE!
This far, NO FARTHER!

Our own government's actions are treasonous to its people, we MUST put an END to the treachery before it's too late!
Posted by AECRADIO (21 comments )
Link Flag
Ok, you are all being ignorant of a few facts. First, no where in the story did it say any U.S. official was threatening to label him a terrorist. THis is just a ploy by his defense lawyers to keep him from extradited. If he had done this on U.S. soil he would have been convicted and sentenced to jail time and/or legal fines. No more, no less. If he gets extradited the same will occure. Since he did not steal any top secret info and give it to Islamic militants he would not be treated as a terrorist.

Second, quit using stories like this just to push your Bush hating agenda's. More than likely he will be extradited, tried and sentenced. Simple as that.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This Guy is a hero
What other way is there to get at the information the government has been hiding all these years. That we have right to know. If heard enough to see he found some things out he wasnt supposed to and now they dont want the word or information to get out. Shame on the government for covering up what could change the lives of everyone on this planet for the better but the powers that be want to enslave us to the oil. I know better.
Posted by nnormore18 (6 comments )
Link Flag
If you're reading this Mr.Mckinnen I advise you to escape. If all that stands between you and the patently ridiculous U.S anti terrorism laws is an unsigned note (very convincing)! then I can hardly think of a worse fate. You should be punished for any crimes you have committed but to be subject to such mediaeval laws,even for actual terrorists which you clearly are'nt is just another sad step along the ridiculous road to insanity that the Bush/Republican administration is going down. Using peoples' fear to ram through these absurd laws which are a total infringement of your civil liberties must stop NOW! The same things are starting to happen in my country(U.K) and I find it frankly terrifying.
Posted by gooders1 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Not to mention an article in AW&ST December 2008 on how malware was on a machine at N.A.S.A undermining the network security and transferring data to some place in China. I tried to get a link for it but, unfortunately you have to have a paid subscription. I read this in an office.
Posted by addadhd (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.