Pentagon Hacker May Soon Face U.S. Authorities

Dennis Faas's picture

A hacker who allegedly crept his way through Pentagon computer systems shortly after the 9/11 attacks recently had his appeal against extradition to the United States dismissed by the British House of Lords. Called the "world's most dangerous hacker" by U.S. authorities, Gary McKinnon could soon face trial stateside for his actions.

Despite the setback, McKinnon maintains his innocence -- and that Europe offers a better place to prove it. "It might be naive of me, but perversely, I think I might have more chance in Europe than I do in my own country."

McKinnon, who has pled his innocence since 2001, complains that the judicial process has taken a terrible toll on his way of life. The 42-year-old was employed as an IT professional before being accused of the crime; since being first arrested, he's been barred from Internet use altogether. Aside from the obvious stigma associated with hacking allegations, being permanently booted from the world wide web makes earning a living (for anyone, let alone an IT pro) particularly difficult. "I've lost two jobs because of this -- my bosses just didn't want to be associated with the publicity," McKinnon said. (Source:

McKinnon may have good reason to fear extradition to the U.S. The nature of the crime could classify him as an "enemy combatant", landing McKinnon in Guantanamo Bay. If convicted, he could face up to 70 years in prison. (Source:

Now that McKinnon has exhausted his options in Britain, his lawyer will next take the case to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg. "Right now I'd be quite glad of a two-year delay," McKinnon shrugged. "It's better than being handed over to US marshals and being put on a plane straight away."

Security experts argue McKinnon will probably have to face U.S. authorities at some time. Graham Cluely of security company Sophos recently told the media, "The US is making a clear stand that anyone making any attempts to compromise its computers and data will face the consequences."

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