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News

Human rights court approves extradition of hacker

Sophos : 29 August, 2008  (Technical Article)
The NASA hacker will face trial in the US after the European Court of Human Rights turns down application for protection against extradition
IT security and control firm Sophos is warning cybercriminals of the severe consequences of hacking, following the European Court of Human Rights' decision earlier this morning that Gary McKinnon will be extradited to the US to face trial on charges of breaking into and damaging US Government Computers.

The so-called 'NASA hacker' from North London, will be extradited to the US to face trial for his cybercrimes within two weeks, following the final decision made by the European courts. Today's verdict comes six and a half years after McKinnon was originally arrested and follows an initial ruling by the British Home Secretary in 2006 that McKinnon should be extradited to the United States, and two subsequent rulings in favour of extradition by the UK Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.

'The US authorities will be rubbing its hands together in glee at the news that they are finally going to get their hands on McKinnon. They have sent a clear message that they are set on hunting down anyone who attempts to breach their computer systems and compromise their data, with McKinnon now facing the uncomfortable prospect of an American trial,' said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. 'McKinnon has had tremendous support from the hacker community and even ordinary people throughout the duration of his trials, but this decision will still hit hard even after the many years of appeals. The message is clear - if you hack into computers you have to realise that the legal consequences could be severe. Others should take note of McKinnon's predicament and ask themselves: do I want to end up in his situation? I'd imagine the answer across the board would be a resounding 'no'."

McKinnon, a self-confessed computer enthusiast, was arrested six and a half years ago after allegedly hacking into computers belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA. He claims to have broken into these networks only to uncover confidential information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and extraterrestrial technology which he believed the authorities were hiding from the public. He has led a high profile campaign to avoid extradition, supported by many other computer hackers.
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