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NASA hacker loses appeal against extradition

Extradition is "lawful and proportionate response"

NASA hacker Gary McKinnon has lost his fight against extradition to the US.

McKinnon is accused of breaking into US military computers, including those belonging to NASA, in 2001, in a bid to prove the US government had knowledge of UFOs. In 2008, the European Court of Human Rights agreed extradite McKinnon to the US.

However, McKinnon challenged the ruling, first by claiming he would plead guilty to the charges if he was tried in the UK. When the British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refused to co-operate, McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, sought a judicial review of the decision to extradite him, with his lawyers claiming his removal from the UK could possibly lead to suicide.

The judges working on the review revealed today that McKinnon's bid had failed and that extradition was "a lawful and proportionate response to his offending". McKinnon could face up to 60 years imprisonment in a 'supermax' facility in the US.

While McKinnon says his actions caused no damage, the US claims he stole 950 passwords, deleted files at a naval base in New Jersey and rendered the military computer networks used following September 11 useless. The US estimates the damage caused by McKinnon at $700,000 (£433,000).

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "McKinnon has had tremendous support from hackers and ordinary people throughout this saga - but what is truly staggering is the support he has received from the IT community.

"Of course a strong message must be sent out to hackers that their activities are unacceptable, but there is arguably a difference between McKinnon and cybercriminals who are in it for the money. The question is, how many more appeals do McKinnon and his numerous supporters have left before his unwilling departure from Heathrow airport."

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See also: Boris calls for US to drop NASA hacker case

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