British Hacker Slips One Step Closer to US Prison

For over a year — February 2001 through March 2002 — a self-described British "computer nerd" quietly accessed U.S. military and NASA computers from his home in London, on what he termed a "moral crusade" to expose U.S. government cover-ups of UFO activity. Now, having twice lost the fight against extradition, he is teetering on the brink of becoming a U.S. prisoner, and possibly disappearing into the depths of Guantanamo Bay.

Gary McKinnon, who lost his original case in 2006, was handed a second defeat this week from the British House of Lords, which functions as the UK's highest court. He is charged with "significantly damaging national security" for his hacking, which he describes as harmless and unobtrusive — charges which could land him more than sixty years in prison. British authorities have already declined to charge, allegedly to expedite extradition, while U.S. officials — who reportedly "want to see him 'fry'" — have threatened to charge him as a terrorist if he doesn't plead guilty. Should that happen, he could be classed an "enemy combatant" and be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

McKinnon will now appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights — a body much less likely to bend to U.S. pressure, as the British authorities have been accused of doing — arguing that the threatened sentence is "disproportionate and intolerable." He has fourteen days within which to launch his appeal — if it is accepted, his extradition will be postponed until the ECHR issues a ruling. If not, he'll be on a plane to the U.S. faster than you can say "Geneva Convention."

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