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Sophos: ’NASA’ Hacker loses extradition appeal in House of Lords

July 2008 by Sophos

IT security and control firm Sophos is warning cybercriminals of the severe consequences of hacking, following the House of Lords’ decision earlier this morning that Gary McKinnon will be extradited to the US to face trial on charges of breaking into and damaging US Government Computers.

The so-called ’NASA hacker’ from North London, is now expected to continue his fight against extradition in the European courts. Today’s verdict comes six and a half years after McKinnon was originally arrested and follows an initial ruling by the British Home Secretary in 2006 that McKinnon should be extradited to the United States, and a subsequent ruling in favour of extradition by the UK Court of Appeal.

"The US is making a clear stand that anyone making any attempts to compromise its computers and data, will face the consequences - in McKinnon’s case, this means they’re not going to give up until they’ve got their man," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "McKinnon has gained the support of many other hackers and indeed ordinary people, and this decision will doubtless come as a shock after these years of appeals. But, any form of hacking is illegal and should be punished as such, and hacking into US government networks is bound to come with harsh repercussions - anyone thinking about engaging in these types of activities in the future should think twice."

McKinnon, a self-confessed computer enthusiast, was arrested six and a half years ago after allegedly hacking into computers belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA. He claims to have broken into these networks only to uncover confidential information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and extraterrestrial technology which he believed the authorities were hiding from the public. He has led a high profile campaign to avoid extradition, supported by many other computer hackers.

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