UFO hacker won't be tried in Britain for U.S. crimes

LONDON Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:25pm EST

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon is seen posing after arriving at the High Court in London in this January 20, 2009 file photograph. REUTERS/Andrew Winning/Files

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon is seen posing after arriving at the High Court in London in this January 20, 2009 file photograph.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning/Files

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - A British hacker whose extradition to face charges of accessing nearly 100 U.S. government computers in a quest for UFOs was halted on grounds he might harm himself will not be tried in Britain, the prosecution office said on Friday.

Gary McKinnon, 46, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, has admitted hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers under the pseudonym "Solo", saying he was looking for evidence of flying saucers and other extraterrestrial activity.

He has been fighting extradition since police arrested him in 2005 and Home Secretary Theresa May blocked his extradition in October because of the high risk he could kill himself. She referred the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to rule if he should be tried at home.

The CPS said on Friday the chances of a conviction were "not high", and cited logistical difficulties in pursuing a case in England and Wales such as bringing over witnesses and evidence from the United States.

"The prospects of a conviction against Mr McKinnon which reflects the full extent of his alleged criminality are not high," the CPS said in a statement.

He had faced up to 60 years in a U.S. jail if found guilty of gaining unauthorized access to 97 U.S. government computers over a decade ago, and allegedly causing $700,000 damage to U.S. military systems.

McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, told the BBC she was disappointed "because it means that he still hasn't got closure".

"Every other country that America has an extradition treaty with, that extradition warrant is still out there and still live. That basically means that Gary can't travel outside the UK for the rest of his life," Todner said.

(Reporting By Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Michael Roddy)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
Abulafiah wrote:
That extradition treaty with the USA should be torn up and thrown away.

The whole case is ridiculous. This is basically the Pentagon saying “Waaah! Waaah! Not fair! Nasty hackers keep breaking into our poorly protected computers! Please, please, stop doing it…”

Pretending that hacking into a computer somehow parallels breaking into a building is stupid, and so is imaging that information is property. If the Pentagon and NASA want to horde information in computers, the responsibility lies with them to stop the hackers – not with the hackers to stop trying to read their files. That is the nature of the internet. That is the modern world.

Dec 15, 2012 4:54am EST  --  Report as abuse
NeilMcGowan wrote:
This is the way to deal with the yankee scum. Just show them a middle digit, and if they still don’t get it, then shout NO! at them.

Dec 15, 2012 5:31am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.