Home Secretary signs British hacker's extradition order

Out-Law News | 07 Jul 2006 | 10:31 am | 1 min. read

Home Secretary John Reid has signed an extradition order for Gary McKinnon, the Scot accused by the US government of perpetrating "the biggest military hack of all time". McKinnon now has 14 days in which to appeal the decision.

McKinnon has said that he believes he faces up to 70 years in jail in the US. When he was initially arrested by the National Hi Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) in 2002, UK prosecutors refused to charge him and he was told he would receive community service. 

He was later indicted by the US and the extradition process was begun. A London district judge recommended extradition in May, but the Home Secretary had the final decision.

"On 4 July the secretary of state signed an order for Mr McKinnon's extradition to the United States for charges connected with computer hacking," said a Home Office statement. " Mr McKinnon now has the opportunity, within 14 days, to appeal against the decisions of the district judge/secretary of state."

McKinnon has publicly admitted to gaining unauthorised access to US military computer systems. He is accused by the US of accessing 97 military and NASA computer systems in 2001 and 2002 and of gaining access to one computer at military headquarters the Pentagon.

He has said that he was looking for information about UFOs and US anti-gravity technology. He rejects the characterisation of his activities by one US prosecutor as "the biggest military hack of all time", and says he was a "bumbling computer nerd".

In the past McKinnon has expressed fears that he would be tried as a terrorist by a military court and sent to Cuban prison camp Guantanemo Bay. At an extradition hearing in April the prosecution produced an unsigned note it claimed was from the US Embassy which guaranteed that McKinnon would not be tried under Military Order 1. The defence argued that the note was not binding because it was unsigned.

The Extradition Act of 2003 does not demand that a request from the US be based on evidence of the charges and has been criticised by human rights groups.

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