NASA hacker Gary McKinnon could be prosecuted in the UK after his lawyers informed the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that he would enter a guilty plea if the case was heard in the UK.

McKinnon broke into US military computers, including those belonging to NASA, in 2001 in a bid to prove the US government has knowledge of UFOs.

While McKinnon says his exploits did not cause any damage, the US allege that McKinnon stole 950 passwords and deleted files at a naval base in New Jersey, responsible for replenishing munitions and supplies for the Atlantic fleet. They also maintain the intrusions disrupted computer networks used by the military that were critical to operations conducted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The US estimates the damage caused by McKinnon at $700,000 (£470,000).

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McKinnon currently faces extradition to the US to stand trial, following the European Court of Human Rights' decision in August 2008. However, this latest move by his lawyers, means that if McKinnon was found guilty, he would be punished here in the UK and extradition would be very unlikely.

"McKinnon has had tremendous support from the hacker community and even ordinary people - many IT workers have a lot of sympathy for his ongoing plight and would rather see him tried in Britain as opposed to the US," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos.

"Any form of hacking is illegal and should be punished as such, and hacking into US government networks is bound to come with harsh repercussions - anyone thinking about engaging in these types of activities in the future should think twice. This man's sorry tale should warn other would-be hackers that they are playing with fire if they break into sensitive networks, and shouldn't be surprised if the full force of the law goes after them."

See also: 48% say hacker McKinnon should be extradited