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Accused hacker hopes guilty plea can keep him from U.S.

Gary McKinnon, the British man accused of hacking into NASA and military computers, has renewed hope that he may be able to avoid extradition to America.

His London lawyer, Karen Todner, told the Associated Press on Monday that McKinnon has agreed to plead guilty to Britain's Computer Misuse Act. In exchange, he would avoid facing trial in the United States.

British prosecutors said they would consider his latest request, according to reports.

McKinnon, 42, is accused of hacking into 97 computers operated by the U.S. government, including those of the Pentagon, Army, Air Force and NASA. Authorities contend McKinnon's actions, which occurred between 2001 and 2002, in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, resulted in the day-long shutdown of the Army's Military District of Washington network of more than 2,000 computers.

Prosecutors said he caused $700,000 in damage. He has said he is a computer geek who wanted to learn whether aliens and UFOs are real.

If convicted, he faces up to 70 years in prison, although it's likely he would receive a much lighter sentence.

McKinnon wants to remain in the U.K., claiming he's afraid that if extradited to America he'll end up in Guantanamo Bay. In addition, he recently was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, an autism-like disorder.

It was assumed that McKinnon had exhausted all options to avoid extradition after the European Court of Human Rights denied his request last August.

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