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Judge approves hacker's extradition

But won't go to Guantanamo Bay

An unemployed systems administrator who allegedly caused $700,000 (about £380,000) in damage by hacking into US military and government computers will be extradited to the US, a court decided today.

Londoner Gary McKinnon, 40, is accused of deleting data and illegally accessing information on US government computers between February 2001 and March 2002. Prosecutors allege McKinnon significantly disrupted government computers, causing damage that jeopardised US military networks.

British investigators seized McKinnon's computers in March 2002. McKinnon admitted installing remote access software on computers he targeted in the US.

The US filed an extradition request after British officials decided not to prosecute McKinnon because the alleged crimes occurred within the US.

McKinnon's lawyers fought extradition, fearing he could be classed as an enemy combatant and be held indefinitely, awaiting trial by a military court.

The US said McKinnon will not be held as an enemy combatant, and will face trial in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

In Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London today, judge Nicholas Evans rejected arguments that McKinnon could be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment in the US.

McKinnon said before the hearing that he would appeal.

Evans referred the case to the British Secretary of State to decide whether McKinnon will be extradited.

McKinnon remains free on bail.

Before leaving the court, McKinnon hugged friends and relatives attending the hearing.


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