Extradition appeal due in weeks, says McKinnon

Pentagon hacker could face Guantanamo Bay

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Gary McKinnon expects that his appeal against extradition to the US could be heard in a matter of weeks. McKinnon told weekly technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio that he expected his appeal to be heard in December or January.

McKinnon is the hacker who broke into the US military and NASA computer systems in 2001 and 2002, where he claims he saw evidence of alien life. McKinnon broke into the systems using just a dial up connection and default passwords.

"I should get my appeal pretty soon, I should think it will be this month or next month," McKinnon said, noting that the person in front of him in the pipeline for extradition cases has just lost his appeal.

Should McKinnon lose his appeal the only thing that could stop him being deported would be the granting of permission to appeal to the House of Lords. He says that the case of the last people to request that, the NatWest Three, does not fill him with confidence.

"If I don't win the appeal then I can apply for leave to appeal to the House of Lords but that is not an automatic right," he said. "The NatWest Three applied for leave to appeal to the House of Lords and were refused and everyone was gobsmacked because they are hardly petty criminals, it was a big important case."

McKinnon has admitted the offences of which he is accused and says he would happily stand trial in the UK, the country in which he says the crimes were committed. He objects, though, to what he sees as the politically-motivated attempts to extradite him, and the UK Government's compliance with the US process.

While he was told he would face community service for the crimes in the UK because he did not appear to have caused damage, the US is claiming that he caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage. The prosecutor there has said he could face 70 years in jail and McKinnon's lawyers have even said he could end up at prison camp Guantanamo Bay.

McKinnon has always maintained that his breaking into the computer systems was not only benign, given that he was searching for alien life and not military secrets, but also that it was easy.

His opinion of US government security has not changed. "Every year they appraise federal and military installation security and every year it gets worse and worse," he said. "It's not the leading concern, profit is the motive and continuing operation is the motive. Safety and security always come last because they are the highest cost outlay."

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