British UFO Hacker Gary McKinnon Is Coming to America

Threat Level extends its warmest welcome to hacker Gary McKinnon, who just lost his extradition appeal to the U.K.’s highest court and will soon be pressing his search for extraterrestrial life from the confines of a U.S. detention facility.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey and Virginia have been trying to extradite the 42-year-old Londoner for six years to put him on trial for penetrating over 90 unclassified Pentagon systems in 2001 and 2002 — and allegedly crashing some of them.  In interviews, McKinnon has admitted the hacking spree (though not the damage), which he says was a search for evidence of a military UFO coverup.

Apparently he was stoned through a lot of it, which explains why most of the intrusions were into Army computers, when everyone knows the Air Force is hiding the UFOs. McKinnon's noble quest for the truth about extraterrestrial life also obliged him to leave this message on an Army computer in 2002:  "U.S. foreign policy is akin to government-sponsored terrorism these days … It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year … I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels."

McKinnon is a cause célèbre in Britain. Playing on stereotypes, he’s persuaded the more gullible sectors of the British press that American spooks want to ship him to Guantanamo, or put him in prison for 60 years. But McKinnon is a petulant child who refused even the mildest sanctions for crimes that he’s largely admitted conducting.

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. You think? 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.

The House of Lords on Wednesday said it was troubled by some aspects of the plea negotiations — such wheeling and dealing over a defendant’s fate is alien to the United Kingdom — but it upheld McKinnon’s extradition order. The hacker now vows to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, which surely has nothing better to do.

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