Strategy, Vulnerability management, Threats, Cybercrime

McKinnon lawyers seek help from new home secretary

May 17, 2010

Attorneys representing accused U.S. government hacker Gary McKinnon are asking the U.K.'s new home secretary to reconsider the planned extradition of their client.

McKinnon, 43, is scheduled to be extradited to the United States to face charges of hacking into 97 computers operated by the U.S. government, including those of the Pentagon, Army, Air Force and NASA.

American authorities have said his actions resulted in a shutdown of the Army's Military District of Washington network, containing more than 2,000 computers and resulting in $700,000 in damage.

But Kaim Todner, the law firm representing McKinnon, said Friday it has "submitted representations to the new Home Secretary Theresa May" asking her to let McKinnon stand trial in his home country, not in the United States, where he faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

McKinnon has maintained that he is simply a computer geek and only wanted to find evidence of alien life and UFOs. His lawyers said an extradition would lead to "disastrous consequences" for his health, including possible psychosis and suicide, according to reports. They have claimed McKinnon is in an “extremely fragile mental state.” 

But the odds seem stacked against him.

Last year, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson said that, after reviewing medical reports and court filings for McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, he found no evidence of why McKinnon should avoid extradition.

McKinnon is now taking his case to the High Court, where a judge soon is set to rule on whether Johnson was correct in his decision.

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