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  (Source: Wired's Threat Level)
Hacker cites human rights concerns over possible military treatment, unfair plea bargain

UK Hacker Gary McKinnon is set for extradition to the United States, after a last-resort appellate committee at the UK’s House of Lords denied his attempts to appeal Wednesday. He is now taking his case to the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

McKinnon is wanted in the United States for allegedly hacking into Pentagon and military computers between 2001 and 2002, where it is claimed he was searching for evidence of a UFO cover-up by the U.S. government. As a byproduct of his escapades, U.S. authorities accuse McKinnon of tampering with military log files – some of which were used to assess the battle readiness of U.S. Navy ships – and deleting critical information which, in one case, knocked more than 2000 U.S. Army computers offline in Washington, DC.

In one case, McKinnon even left authorities a calling card in the form of a note, which read:

“US foreign policy is akin to government-sponsored terrorism these days ... It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year ... I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels...”

The Law Lords’ opinion of USA v. McKinnon notes that McKinnon “admitted responsibility” to his crimes with UK authorities after his arrest in 2002, and evidence mounting against him across the pond indicates that he has little chance of walking away with a not-guilty plea in the United States. To that end, U.S. authorities offered McKinnon a plea deal: if McKinnon plead guilty and came to the United States willingly, he’d endure a lenient, 6-12 month sentence at a minimum security prison in the U.S., followed by repatriation to the UK and most likely supervised or paroled release.

McKinnon has repeatedly turned down this offer, however, and instead spent the last six years fighting the U.S. government’s extradition request. The sentence he now faces is decidedly more severe: at least 8-10 years in a medium- or high-security U.S. prison, and have little opportunity for parole or repatriation to the UK.

In his defense, McKinnon said the U.S. plea-bargaining process – a technique foreign to UK courts – was a violation of his human rights: the only way to seek punishment in his own country, he argued, was to give in to the U.S. plea-bargain and surrender willingly – a process that would have him automatically admitting guilt and, according to his supporters, opting out of a fair trial.

McKinnon’s defense has also expressed fears of special-category, Guantanamo-style military treatment, should he be extradited to the United States.

His supporters note that the Law Lords’ opinion, agreed on unanimously by the court, was written by ex-Intelligence Services Commissioner Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Haywood, automatically slanting his opinion in favor a cultural “partnership” mentality with the U.S.

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RE: What a wuss.
By 306maxi on 8/1/2008 9:17:04 AM , Rating: 4
I tend to agree. He's done something wrong, he knew it was wrong, he knew the consequences and now he's crying because he's going to get what's coming to him? What a load of rubbish. You do the crime you do the time..... He knew he was taking on the military so he should have known he was going to get a military style trial and punishment.

Sucks to be you Mr McKinnon!

RE: What a wuss.
By 306maxi on 8/1/2008 9:19:07 AM , Rating: 2
I should point out that he probably won't even get that sort of treatment... he's just scared of the possibility.

RE: What a wuss.
By mdogs444 on 8/1/2008 9:22:54 AM , Rating: 3
No doubt. But a foreigner breaching the US National Defense Military network - regardless of the post intention, could be considered terrorism. I hope they try him as one.

RE: What a wuss.
By StevoLincolnite on 8/1/2008 9:32:50 AM , Rating: 2
Lets hope that some good came of this and whatever loop-hole he utilized has now been rectified in the Computer Network that U.S employs.

What makes me wonder is, if the U.S would have to remain true to there word and place him in a low-security prison? If that's the case, then he would have been better off going to the United States, do the little amount of time, then put up with 6 years of stress.

RE: What a wuss.
By martinrichards23 on 8/1/2008 9:51:36 AM , Rating: 1
He only used software that someone else made, he is no great hacker.

Indeed, many people hacked the networks just like he did.

Though he should obviously be punished, the fact is that its better to have someone like him bungle his way through and expose the vulnerability than Iran or North Korea.

RE: What a wuss.
By iNGEN on 8/3/2008 2:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
Can you think of a better reason he would be offered six months in a minimum security prison?

RE: What a wuss.
By johnsonx on 8/1/2008 11:11:19 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt he's legitimately scared of that possibility, because it really isn't a possibility. He's just using it as an excuse.

RE: What a wuss.
By czarchazm on 8/1/08, Rating: 0
RE: What a wuss.
By johnsonx on 8/1/2008 1:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
The only people who go to Gitmo are "enemy combantants", and while that definition is somewhat muddy these days, it definitely doesn't include English computer hackers. The little pud had nothing to fear if he had just accepted the original deal.

RE: What a wuss.
By foolsgambit11 on 8/1/2008 3:58:24 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, the Supreme Court just said, it doesn't matter that they're in GTMO, they still have their rights.

RE: What a wuss.
By SiN on 8/2/2008 9:20:39 AM , Rating: 1
just that they wont benifit from having them.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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