A British court on Wednesday approved a request by the United States for the extradition of an unemployed systems administrator who allegedly caused US$700,000 in damage by hacking into U.S. military and government computers.
Gary McKinnon, 40, of London, is accused of deleting data and illegally accessing information on U.S. government computers between February 2001 and March 2002. Prosecutors allege McKinnon significantly disrupted government computers, causing damage that jeopardized U.S. military networks.
British investigators seized McKinnon’s computers in March 2002. McKinnon admitted installing remote access software on computers he targeted in the United States.
The United States filed an extradition request after British officials decided not to prosecute McKinnon because the alleged crimes occurred within the United States.
McKinnon’s attorneys fought extradition, fearing that he could be classed as an enemy combatant and be held indefinitely, awaiting trial by a military court.
The United States said McKinnon will not be held as an enemy combatant, and will face trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
In Bow Street Magistrates’ Court in London on Wednesday, judge Nicholas Evans rejected arguments that McKinnon could be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment in the United States.
McKinnon said before the hearing that he would appeal.
Evans referred the case to the British secretary of state to decide whether McKinnon will be extradited.
McKinnon remains free on bail.
Before leaving the court, McKinnon hugged friends and relatives attending the hearing.
-Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service
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