71% Say Extradition Of UFO Hacker Gary McKinnon Is Wrong

71% Say Extradition Of UFO Hacker Gary McKinnon Is Wrong
July 31, 2009
by Graham Cluley
Dark Reading.com

elf-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon has lost a judicial review in London, which he hoped would have lead to a British investigation into his case, rather than extradition to the United States.

However, a Sophos poll of 550 IT professionals has revealed that seven out of ten respondents believe that NASA hacker Gary McKinnon should not be extradited to the US, despite the high court's contradictory verdict earlier today.

The London-based hacker applied for judicial review following a previous decision by the British authorities that refused to bring charges against McKinnon in the UK.

If McKinnon had been tried and and punished in Great Britain it is unlikely that he would also be extradited to the United States.

Despite a relentless media campaign and several extradition appeals in the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights, today's decision by Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie could leave McKinnon facing up to 60 years imprisonment in a 'supermax' facility.

The latest survey shows that there has been a surge in public support for the self-confessed hacker.

McKinnon has had tremendous support from hackers and ordinary people throughout this saga - but what is truly staggering is the support he has received from the IT community.

McKinnon was arrested in the months following 9/11, after allegedly hacking into computers belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA. The computer enthusiast from North London claims that he broke into the computer systems only to hunt for top secret information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and alien technology, which he believed the authorities were hiding from the public.

US authorities, meanwhile, allege that McKinnon - known by the handle 'Solo' - caused nearly a million dollars worth of damage, shutting down systems responsible for the tracking the location of naval ships, and protecting Washington DC.

The consensus is that it is perhaps inappropriate to make an example of a UFO conspiracy theory nut with Asperger's Syndrome when serious crimes are still being carried out by financially-motivated hackers, stealing identities, sending spam and creating botnets.

Of course a strong message must be sent out to hackers that their activities are unacceptable, but there is arguably a difference between McKinnon and cybercriminals who are in it for the money.
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