British man responsible for Pentagon hack alludes to possibility of U.S. military tribunal

By Tim Tonkin,    2008-07-27 14:44:17    

A 42-year-old British man accused of illegally accessing U.S. military intelligence databases, will discover later this week whether he faces extradition to the United States, and the possibility of being tried by military tribunal.
Gary McKinnon from Enfield, North London was initially arrested in 2002 for perpetrating what American prosecutors described as “The biggest military computer hack of all time”, after bypassing security measures to access the Pentagon’s classified databases. In the wake of his arrest, McKinnon claims he was offered a lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea by U.S. prosecutors but rejected it.

Consequently, the U.S. began extradition proceedings with McKinnon allegedly threatened with the prospect of being designated a terrorist and trial by a military tribunal. In 2006, a British High Court ruling approved extradition prompting an appeal to the House of Lords by McKinnon’ lawyers who argued that coercion into plea-bargaining represented “an unlawful abuse of the court process”.

A self-taught IT expert and UFO enthusiast McKinnon accessed information within Army, Navy, Pentagon and NASA computer systems, but has always insisted that his motives were borne out of curiosity not malevolence: “Now I’m facing 60 years in prison…because they’re scared of what I’ve seen” he stated ”I’m living in a surreal, nutter’s film”.

McKinnon is now awaiting the House of Lord’s decision with the outcome possibly determining whether or not he remains in the UK. A ruling in his (McKinnon’s) favour would force the extradition process back to the “square one” of the Magistrates Court. A ruling against McKinnon would effectively open the way for extradition, although his legal team would almost certainly lodge a fresh appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.

Tim Tonkin, The Cheers News

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