Threat Management

UK wards off hacker’s extradition to US

British courts have concluded that Gary McKinnon, who was accused of hacking computers belonging to NASA and the U.S. military, will not face extradition to the U.S. – an outcome McKinnon battled for years following his 2002 arrest.

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May withdrew the extradition order against him on Tuesday, citing that McKinnon suffered from depressive illness and Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

“Mr. McKinnon is accused of serious crimes, but there is also no doubt that he is seriously ill,” May said. She later said the move to extradite him to the U.S. could result in a suicide attempt on his part.  

“I have concluded that Mr. McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life, that the decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr. McKinnon's human rights,” she added.

U.S. officials accused McKinnon, 46, of hacking into 97 computers belonging to the government, including those of NASA, the Pentagon, Air Force, Army and Navy. He allegedly deleted and accessed sensitive information on the computers from his London home between 2001 and 2002, costing the government $700,000 in damages.

McKinnon said that his motives were to uncover evidence of UFOs that the U.S. government was hiding. If extradited to the U.S., McKinnon would have faced up to 60 years in prison.

It is now up to British courts to decide whether McKinnon will face charges in the U.K., May said.

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