April 12 2006
A man born in Glasgow and accused of hacking into the most
sophisticated IT systems on the planet and paralysing a US naval base
soon after the September 11 attacks could face extradition and 60
years in prison if a court decision goes against him today.
Gary McKinnon, 40, is accused of breaking into American defence
computers but is contesting an attempt to extradite him, fearing he
could be branded a terrorist and face indefinite incarceration. The US
government claims he accessed 97 government computers over a one-year
period, causing =A3370,000-worth of damage.
One allegation relates to Mr McKinnon deleting operating system files
and logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle after the
September 11 attacks, rendering the base's entire network of more than
300 computers inoperable.
Mr McKinnon, who admits to unauthorised access using his home computer
and Microsoft Windows at his London home, is fighting extradition,
arguing he could face up to 60 years in prison or incarceration in
In an interview with Channel Four, Mr McKinnon said if he was tried in
the US it would be by military commission and, if so, there was no
appeal allowed because President Bush himself reserved the exclusive
right of review.
He is fearful he could be taken beyond the reach of the US judicial
system and sent to Guantanamo Bay, where he would have no access to
Unemployed Mr McKinnon, of Wood Green, north London, said: "It (the
damages claim) is completely false. An extradition offence must be
worth one year in prison.
"One IT offence worth a year in prison must be $5000 of damage. So
amazingly every machine I was on I am accused of causing $5000 of
Mr McKinnon, who claims he was only trying to obtain information about
UFOs, said the accusation that he single-handedly brought down a whole
system was "scary stuff" and he was sure this was "not possible".
But counsel for the US government claimed Mr McKinnon left a note on
an army computer saying US foreign policy was akin to
government-sponsored terrorism. The note said: "It was not a mistake
that there was a huge security stand down on September 11th last
year... I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels."
The hearing at Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London is due to
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