A multi-year saga has moved one step close to a British hacker being moved to the United States to face trial

The Briton accused of the "biggest military hack of all time" against NASA and Pentagon networks a few years ago lost his appeal last week and will likely face trial in the United States.

Using a dial-up modem and software available to all computer users, Gary McKinnon, 43, accessed computer networks of the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Department of defense, along with NASA computers.  McKinnon admitted to hacking into the U.S. military computer networks, attempted extradition for more than three years, with his case going as high as the European Court of Human Rights.

McKinnon's reasoning for his computer network intrusions had been based on a personal "moral crusade" showing the United States government hid signs of alien life.

In 2002, a grand jury in Virginia indicted McKinnon on seven counts of computer-related offenses, though prosecutors understood it would be extremely difficult to have McKinnon extradited.  The admitted hacker's extradition was denied multiple times since then, as human rights issues were brought up each time.

The death blow came from the British High Court, which rejected arguments from McKinnon's attorneys, citing human rights issues related to extraditing a man with Asperger's Syndrome, which is a form of autism, for a non-violent offense.

U.S. government officials assured Minister for Equality Harriet Harman and other British officials that McKinnon would be looked after, even though McKinnon's attorneys were concerned he could be sentenced to Guantanamo Bay.  Harman, however, told the media he and others will look for McKinnon to serve his prison time, if convicted, in a UK jail.

Human rights campaigner Terry Waite called for the U.S. to drop all charges against McKinnon, as the case has received a large amount of interest with the human rights groups.

If convicted, McKinnon faces seven counts -- each with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison -- along with a $250,000 fine.  When brought to the United States, it's expected he will immediately be brought to trial, though it's unknown how much jail time prosecutors hope he serves.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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