Court: British Hacker Can Be Extradited to U.S
A British court recommended Wednesday that a man be extradited to the United
States to face charges in the largest attack on U.S. government computer networks
-- including Army, Air Force, Navy and NASA systems.
Gary McKinnon, 40, of London has been indicted in New Jersey and Virginia for
allegedly hacking into U.S. government computers between February 2001 and March
2002. He was arrested in 2002 and has fought his extradition by claiming he
could face prosecution under U.S. anti-terror laws.
"My intention was never to disrupt security. The fact that I logged on
and there were no passwords means that there was no security," McKinnon
said, outside the hearing at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court. "I
was looking for UFOs."
Court records in Virginia said McKinnon caused $900,000 in damage to computers,
including those of private companies, in 14 states.
In New Jersey, he is accused of hacking into a network of 300 computers at
the Earle Naval Weapons Station in Colts Neck, N.J., and stealing 950 passwords.
The break-in -- which occurred immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks -- shut down the whole system for a week, Judge Nicholas Evans said.
The station is responsible for replenishing the Atlantic fleet's munitions and
Though McKinnon was able to view sensitive details about naval munitions and
shipbuilding on the secure U.S. systems, he did not access classified information,
an investigation found.
British Home Secretary John Reid will make the final decision on extradition.
If he approves it, McKinnon will appeal to the High Court, his lawyer Karen
Edward Lawson, another attorney for McKinnon, told an earlier hearing that
his client feared prosecution by a U.S. military commission under powers introduced
after the Sept. 11 attacks.
But the judge said there was no "real, as opposed to fanciful, risk"
of McKinnon being prosecuted under anti-terror laws, asking the suspect to accept
an assurance provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.
He told McKinnon that in choosing to target the United States he had "run
the risk of being prosecuted in that country."
Officials in New Jersey and Virginia would have to decide where McKinnon should
stand trial. If convicted of the charges in New Jersey, McKinnon faces a maximum
sentence of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.