British super hacker fights extradition to US

Biggest hack in history was 'just for fun'

A British man is in court this week to fight extradition to the United States after he allegedly hacked into 97 military and NASA computers across the pond. Gary McKinnon , 41, from Glasgow, could spend the rest of his life in prison if he is extradited and found guilty.

McKinnon is accused of hacking into computers belonging to The Pentagon, NASA, the US Army , US Navy , Department of Defense and the US Air Force . It has been dubbed "the biggest military computer hack of all time" and was perpetrated in 2001 and 2002.

In July, UK Home Secretary John Reid approved a US request for McKinnon's extradition. But McKinnon argues that any crimes he has committed were perpetrated in the UK and so he deserves to be tried on British soil. McKinnon's solicitor, Edmund Lawson QC, said that his client would most likely have to spend an unknown amount of time in pre-trial imprisonment with little chance of bail.

McKinnon was interviewed by the BBC Click programme last year, during which he said he was able to access the US military networks simply by implementing a 'Perl script' which scanned for computers with default passwords. He was also interviewed by our sister magazine .net - you can still watch the interview online.

He maintains that his intentions were not malicious, and that he was motivated more by curiosity than anything else. If the appeal against extradition fails, and he is found guilty of all charges, McKinnon could face a jail term of anywhere between 45 and 70 years.