Nasa hacker fights extradition

A 39-year-old British hacker charged with breaching military networks has vowed to fight his extradition to the U.S.

Gary McKinnon, from Wood Green in London, was arrested on Tuesday as the result of a three year extradition campaign after a Virginia court found him guilty in 2002.

Yesterday McKinnon was released on bail after a court hearing where he cited fears about facing trial in the U.S. According to his lawyer, recent ill-treatment of British nationals inspired "little confidence." He will return to court on July 27 for an extradition hearing.

"We get these hacking incidents roughly once a year," said Richard Starnes, president of the ISSA UK. "But since 2002 computer security within the U.S. military has improved greatly. It would be more difficult for this incident to occur today. Even so the number of computer systems the U.S. military has to keep track of is in the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions - that sort of scale is hard to protect completely."

During a colourful hacking spree in 2002 and 2003 McKinnon accessed unclassified systems belonging to the Pentagon, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), an Eastern Seaboard nuclear sub base and a Nasa research facility. Despite the high-profile nature of the places hacked, reports in the U.S. suggest McKinnon was only looking for evidence of UFO sightings, rather than conducting anything more subversive.

"It probably wasn't espionage, if it was the prosecution would probably have been under the Patriot Act," said Starnes.

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