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British hacker will be able to stay in the U.K. until the European courts decide what to do about the case

The never ending saga of British hacker Gary McKinnon recently took another turn after EU courts officially requested that Great Britain not extradite McKinnon to the United States to face hacking charges just yet.  The UK House of Lords denied his latest appeal earlier in the month, and believe the man responsible for "the biggest military hack of all time" should be sent to the United States to face justice.

But after losing the appeal in the House of Lords, McKinnon's attorney to the battle to the European Court of Human Rights, where he was granted "interim relief" until the Court is able to look into the case further.  

"The applicant should not be extradited to the United States before midnight on 29 August 2008. This was in order to allow the Chamber to examine the request at the earliest opportunity, namely at its meeting on 28 August 2008," the court ruled.

McKinnon is accused of hacking into the Pentagon and other military computers over a one-year span from 2001 and 2002.  Using a dial-up modem and standard software available to all computer users at the time, McKinnon accessed computers used by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense, along with multiple NASA computers.  

The computer intrusions led to 2,000 systems being knocked offline and at least 2,455 user accounts and network logs were deleted at the Naval Weapons Station Earle, according to the U.S. government.  Furthermore, data copied from computers used by the Air Force, Navy, Army and NASA caused an additional $700,000.

He officially faces eight counts of unauthorized computer access and causing damage to computers, with each charge carrying a maximum 10 year federal prison sentence along with a $250,000 fine.

One lawyer for the U.S. government, Mark Summers, noted that extradition is necessary for McKinnon because his crimes were against U.S. computers.

He admitted to hacking the government computers, claiming he was looking for evidence of a UFO cover up by the United States government.  In return, the U.S. government is trying to extradite him under terrorism charges, which his attorney said could lead to him serving a sentence in Guantanamo Bay.

Prosecutors said they are willing to reduce his sentence down to four years if he throws in the white towel and pleads guilty to the charges.  But if he continues his entrenched battle against extradition, the U.S. government will look to sentence him to the maximum.





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