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thedrifter
01-21-09, 07:17 PM
Lawyers oppose extradition of DoD hacker
By Jill Lawless - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jan 20, 2009 13:03:07 EST

LONDON — Lawyers for a British man accused of hacking into U.S. military computers asked Britain’s High Court to block his extradition to the United States.

They say Gary McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, and is at risk of psychosis or suicide if he is sent to the U.S.

Lawyer Edward Fitzgerald said Tuesday that McKinnon was “a seriously disordered person” whose health would suffer if he were sent so far away from his family. He said the danger would increase if McKinnon were held in harsh conditions in a maximum security prison.

McKinnon’s lawyers are asking the court to let him appeal the government’s decision to extradite him.

U.S. prosecutors say McKinnon, 42, broke into 97 computers belonging to NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and several branches of the U.S. military shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

McKinnon says he was looking for evidence of UFOs and only succeeded in his hack because of lax security. British and European courts have rejected repeated legal attempts to prevent his extradition.

McKinnon’s alleged hacks shut down the U.S. Army district responsible for protecting Washington, D.C. and cleared logs from computers at Naval Weapons Station Earle in northern New Jersey, which tracks the location and battle-readiness of U.S. Navy ships.

The hacker was caught in 2002 when investigators traced software used in the attacks to his girlfriend’s e-mail account. If he is extradited to the United States, he will face trial on eight charges of computer fraud. Each count could bring a sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but U.S. prosecutors have said he likely would receive a much lighter sentence.

Last week, McKinnon’s lawyer said he was willing to plead guilty to a criminal charge in Britain and face trial in his home country instead of the United States. British prosecutors say they are considering the request.

Ellie