A British hacker who sought to find evidence of UFOs on U.S. military computers has another chance at avoiding extradition after a court ruling Friday.
The High Court in London ruled that Gary McKinnon can have his case reviewed by the director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, Keir Starmer, according to statement released by McKinnon’s attorney.
McKinnon is seeking to be prosecuted in the U.K. although his extradition order has been approved by the U.K. government. He has managed to avoid extradition so far through a series of legal maneuvers and appeals, all of which have been unsuccessful but held up his transfer to the U.S.
McKinnon was indicted in November 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He faces charges of illegally accessing and damaging U.S. government computers.
The U.S. government alleges his exploits cost at least US$700,000 and caused the shutdown of critical military networks shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. McKinnon could face a sentence of 60 years or more.
Most recently, McKinnon has tried to garner support that, for medical reasons, if he is extradited and sentenced he should be allowed to serve a sentence in the U.K. Now McKinnon is pushing to only be prosecuted in the U.K. due to the stress he would endure from a U.S. trial.
He has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, which is a neurological disorder characterized by obsessive behavior and deficiencies in social interaction.
McKinnon has admitted to hacking the computers and described how he did it in detail at computer security conferences in London. From his north London home, McKinnon began probing military computers looking for evidence of UFOs.
He used a program called “RemotelyAnywhere” to control U.S. military computers. Many of the computers he accessed were set up with default passwords, which made them easy to access, McKinnon has said.
He timed his hacking when no one was working at the U.S. offices. But on one occasion he miscalculated the time difference. Someone using a computer that McKinnon controlled noticed the cursor moving on its own. The connection was severed, and U.K. police eventually tracked McKinnon down.