NASA hacker Gary McKinnon could be prosecuted in Britain

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Gary McKinnon, the infamous hacker who broke into computer systems belonging to NASA, Department of Defense, the US Army, US Navy and US Army, has told the British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that he would plead guilty if prosecuted in Britain.

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper today, McKinnon’s lawyers have informed the CPS that London-based McKinnon, who is facing extradition to the United States, that he would admit to offences under the Computer Misuse Act. If he were found guilty and punished in the UK, it would make extradition to the USA unlikely.

This latest twist is just the latest in a long-running tale of twists and turns as McKinnon’s supporters have aggressively fought to prevent him from being extradited to the United States, where they claim he will be treated as a scapegoat. Support for McKinnon is widespread. Indeed a couple of years ago when we polled 565 IT workers, we found that 52% did not think he should be extradited.

McKinnon has admited that he broke into sensitive US military networks, but says it was only to hunt for confidential information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and UFO technology which he believed the authorities were hiding from the public.

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US authorities, meanwhile, allege that McKinnon stole 950 passwords and deleted files at a naval base in New Jersey, responsible for replenishing munitions and supplies for the Atlantic fleet.

Whatever the truth, the sorry tale of Gary McKinnon should warn other would-be hackers that they are playing with fire if they break into sensitive networks, and shouldn’t be surprised if the full force of the law goes after them.

Picture credit: NASA

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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