UK hacker Gary McKinnon has lost his High Court appeal to avoid extradition to the United States, where he is wanted for hacking into a number of US defence sites.
Dubbed 'The UFO Hacker, 43-year-old McKinnon admitted breaking into US defence and NASA networks in 2001 and 2002, but he claimed he had no malicious intent, and that he was looking for UFO related information. He also denies he caused any damage, but the Americans claim his mischief cost them $800,000.
The High Court found his actions were indeed serious, and that
extradition was "a lawful and proportionate response to his offending".
The troubling part is that McKinnon could face up to 70 year in prison,
as U.S. authorities describe the case as the biggest military computer
hack of all time, and they will be seeking a hefty penalty.
McKinnon's mother claims her son was "naive enough to admit to computer misuse without having a lawyer and without one being present". She adds that the family is heartbroken and that McKinnon's live has been destroyed.
Another aspect of the case is McKinnon's medical condition. He has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder which his lawyers claim was not given proper consideration by authorities. They say he was merely eccentric and that his extradition could have disastrous consequences, including suicide. As U.K. authorities failed to take this into consideration, it's hard to imagine their U.S. counterparts will have more understanding, especially considering the U.S. track record in criminal cases against people with mental disorders.