Gary McKinnon, a 43-year-old British computer hacker suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, who has been caught in an extradition battle between the U.S. and the UK over the last decade, suffered a setback on Wednesday when President Barack Obama said the case was now in the hands of the British legal system.
Earlier the President had been more inclined to find a solution that would probably spare McKinnon, who hacked into the NASA and Pentagon sites from his London home, from being extradited to the U.S.
At a joint press conference with the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the president said: “We have confidence in the British legal system coming to a just conclusion, and so we will await resolution and we will be respectful of that process.
The statement was in line with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's statement this month in which he assured that the government would ‘take all of the necessary steps’ towards the extradition of McKinnon. Holder said McKinnon needed to be held accountable for the crimes that he committed.
U.S. prosecutors had accused McKinnon of committing the biggest military computer hack of all time, after it emerged that he had hacked into 97 military and NASA systems between 2001 and 2002. He used the name 'Solo' during the 13-month hack attack.
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A Wikipedia entry says the following: The US authorities claim he deleted critical files from operating systems, which shut down the US Army’s Military District of Washington network of 2,000 computers for 24 hours, as well as deleting US Navy Weapons logs, rendering a naval base's network of 300 computers inoperable after the September 11th terrorist attacks. McKinnon is also accused of copying data, account files and passwords onto his own computer. US authorities claim the cost of tracking and correcting the problems he caused was over $700,000.
McKinnon, who was diagnosed with Asperger's in 2008, has said he was merely searching for evidence for UFOs and aliens. In a legal battle spanning a decade, several British courts have said they can’t block the extradition process as it would be hard legally to do so under a US-UK extradition treaty signed in 2003.