December 6, 2008, 5:51
UFO hacker faces extradition to U.S.
A demonstration against the extradition of a British computer hacker to the U.S. has been held outside the American Embassy in London. Garry McKinnon is accused of hacking into U.S. military computers in 2001 and 2002. The protesters demand McKinnon, who was diagnosed with a neurological disorder, be tried in the UK.
McKinnon - an unemployed systems analyst from Scotland - is accused of hacking into computers belonging to the Pentagon, NASA and U.S. Armed Forces. Under the hacker alias ‘Solo’, he allegedly accessed highly confidential data on their servers seven years ago.
For the past four years he and his family have been fighting in British courts an extradition order to the U.S. They have written a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisting the government’s intervention on the issue.
Prosecutors say McKinnon caused up to $US 700,000 worth of damage, while the 42-year old claims he was searching for evidence of the existence of UFOs.
Mr. McKinnon is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, and in recent months campaigners argued that McKinnon should be tried in the UK because of his medical condition.
The UK’s controversial extradition treaty with the United States has been widely criticized for being unbalanced and for not requiring the U.S. to provide any proof for its extradition requests.
Karen Todner, Gary McKinnon’s attorney said:
“When they signed that extradition treaty they sold us down the line, they sold the British citizens down the line undoubtedly.”
Todner says the act was aimed at terrorists to make extradition easier between the two countries.
“What actually happens is that people like the NatWest Three go, but people who are accused of terrorism don’t go because we don’t send people to Guantanamo Bay because that’s a breach of their human rights. The whole purpose of it has really been defeated and people like Gary and the NatWest Three suffer as a result of that,” she said.
The NatWest Three are three British businessmen who gained notoriety in 2004 as the most prominent target of the then new extradition treaty. They were sentenced in the United States to 37 months in prison for wire fraud.
Gary McKinnon could face up to 70 years in jail if tried in the U.S. The judicial review at the High Court next month will finally decide Gary McKinnon’s fate.