British hacker keeps fighting extradition to U.S.

McKinnon's attorney today says extradition could cause psychotic breakdown, suicide

A British hacker who has been fighting extradition to the United States for the past seven years today made an eleventh-hour appeal to a British court to be tried in the U.K. instead of in a U.S. federal court.

Gary McKinnon, 43, has admitted that in 2001 he broke into U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and U.S. Army computer systems. However, McKinnon has been using a series of legal maneuvers and appeals to fight extradition to the U.S. since he was indicted in November 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on charges related to the computer hacks.

Earlier this year, McKinnon's efforts took yet another blow when the Crown Prosecution Service, a U.K. government arm that handles public prosecutions, announced that it will not prosecute McKinnon for hacking into the U.S. sites, freeing him to be tried in the U.S.

Several U.K. based publications reported that McKinnon's attorney today asked judges at the British High Court to overturn the Crown Prosecution Service's decision. According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, McKinnon's attorney, Edward Fitzgerald, argued that the court had failed to take into account human rights issues associated with the case.

Fitzgerald also said an extradition, trial and sentence would weigh too heavily on McKinnon, who reportedly has Asperger's Syndrome, an autism-related neurobiological disorder. He added that the stress of it could make McKinnon psychotic or suicidal, according to a report from

A representative of the Crown Prosecution Service, however, today reiterated their earlier reasoning, saying that the U.K. simply doesn't have enough evidence to reflect the seriousness of the charges being leveled by U.S. federal prosecutors, leaving them unable to hand down a sentence that matches the seriousness of the charges, the BBC added.

The BBC noted that the court is expected to release its decision later this month.

McKinnon, who was an unemployed system administrator in the U.K. at the time of the 2001 hacks, has admitted to hacking the computers and described how he did it in presentations at computer security conferences in London. He also has said he wasn't trying to damage the systems but was looking to find evidence of UFOs on U.S. military computers.

McKinnon had long been looking to be prosecuted in the U.K., even though his extradition order has been approved by the U.K. government.

The U.S. government alleges that McKinnon caused $US900,000 in damages to computers in 14 states, and that he caused the shutdown of critical military networks shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He faces a sentence of 60 years or more in the U.S.

The case took on a new level of cause celebre earlier this year, when London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote a column in London's Telegraph newspaper that called on President Barack Obama to call off U.S. efforts to extradite and prosecute McKinnon. Johnson called the U.S. efforts to prosecute McKinnon a "legal nightmare" and described the move as "American bullying."

Since then, other celebrities have joined McKinnon's cause.

In April, McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, announced that David Gilmour, singer and guitarist for the iconic English rock bank Pink Floyd, had recorded a song for an upcoming CD that's being put together to support McKinnon.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hackers

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?