UK Guy Who Hacked Into US Military Computers Overplays His Hand; Loses Extradition Appeal
from the give-it-up dept
From the very beginning it had seemed like the US was overhyping the fact that they had tracked down UK-based Gary McKinnon, as the guy who had hacked into various military computer systems. They claimed he had caused millions of dollars of damages, and even called him “the world’s biggest hacker.” Of course, the details suggest he was more like a big idiot. He got high, decided that the US was hiding secrets on aliens, and hacked into a military computer system to try to find the details — and then (according to his own explanation) hit the wrong button and thought “oh, bloody hell.” So, he clearly did something wrong: he broke into US military computer systems. He clearly deserves to be punished for it, but he’s definitely overplayed his hand as well in response.
For years, he’s been fighting attempts by the US to extradite him, including bogus claims about how the US government would declare him a terrorist and send him to Gitmo. He’s now lost his latest attempt to prevent extradition, but is already planning to appeal again — once again, with his lawyers screaming Gitmo.
However, as Kevin Poulsen (who knows a thing or two about getting arrested for malicious hacking) reports at Wired News, McKinnon is totally blowing things out of proportion. The US offered him a plea deal, where he would get 6 months to a year in minimum security prison, and then get sent back to the UK. Of course, rather than accepting what seems like a pretty reasonable deal (from a guy who admitted to being in the wrong), McKinnon used this to claim that the US was trying to extort him. Now, since he refused to accept the plea bargain, and has lost the attempt to stop extradition, he may face a much harsher sentence. Poulsen sums up the situation nicely:
According to his lawyers, the United States offered McKinnon a deal of six months to a year in U.S. federal custody, followed by repatriation by the U.K., where he’d be eligible for parole after six months. McKinnon turned it down, then went running to the U.K. courts whining that the big bad Americans were trying to extort him into pleading guilty. Duh. That’s what a plea bargain is, slick.
And six to 12 months is quite a bargain indeed. It’s minimum security camp time: We’re talking ping-pong tables and a sunny running track. Now he’s looking at the same kind of sentence U.S. hackers get — measured in years, not months, and based on the financial losses a jury finds him responsible for.