July 27, 2005 11:58 AM PDT

NASA hacker begins extradition fight

The British man charged with hacking into a series of computers belonging to the U.S. government has begun his campaign against extradition.

Gary McKinnon, 39, appeared Wednesday at Bow Street Magistrate's Court in London for an extradition hearing on charges he gained unauthorized access to 97 U.S. government computers, including machines belonging to NASA and the Department of Defense.

The U.S. government alleges McKinnon accessed passwords and deleted critical files from the Earle U.S. naval weapons station, causing the 300 computers in its network to shut down. In the process, he gained password information that could be useful to an enemy and caused the U.S. Army's Washington military district to shut down its systems for about a day, the U.S. authorities say.

Gary McKinnon
Gary McKinnnon

Lawyers for the U.S. said McKinnon's attacks cost government agencies about $700,000. The Earle hack, which the U.S. said left the entire network vulnerable to outside access, cost $290,431.

McKinnon, however, said he only deleted files once, accidentally, and that he gained unauthorized access to military systems just to look for evidence of UFO conspiracies.

McKinnon's lawyers said he will be fighting the extradition on human rights grounds. If convicted, the north Londoner could face 70 years in jail.

The hearing has been adjourned until Oct. 18 to give McKinnon's defense team more time to prepare its case.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

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intent? and more secure systems as a result....
I think enough hackers have been used as examples for punishment.. give the guy something better to do with his time.. is the guy a criminal or a telented software engineer acting out? and if so., why? The London tech scene seems to be doing pretty good from what I understand.. why isnt this guy working?

its really sad to see wasted talent in jail.. I dont think scaring people with doing time does much corrective action.. raised morality can be acheived through success and improved self esteem... wich come from healthy and supportive communities... vibrant and opportunitive economies...

One of the best programmer I have known spent about a year or two in prison... they took him right from his dorm at the university... afterwards he was working at Mcdonalds... I got him a job at a startup.... his PO nailed him on something and he lost all his stock options.. wich he could have purchased a house with outright.. now he works in the valley... drives a porsche... he seems ok now... but being a convicted felon in an intellegencia oriented industry can be.. well.. anyway..

The truth is... hacking and software piracy and such is something that many many kids grow up doing... and its how they learn tech.. and from my experience with tech I honestly and truthfully believe a little hacking and warez d/ls is good and quite necessary for the industry...

I still dont understand how vulunerable our military's systems could be... something is wrong here... I know the defense industry can engineer some pretty amazing feats..

kinda sounds like political fodder to me...
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