NASA hacker won't be extradited to U.S. due to Asperger's

By on October 16, 2012, 5:30 PM

U.K. citizen Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the U.S. for his suspected role in the intrusion of sensitive government computers, namely those of NASA, the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy. British officials have refused to send McKinnon abroad due to concerns of his possible suicide -- a fate deemed certain based on evaulations of McKinnon who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and "depressive illness".

Asperger's Syndrome is considered a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder -- essentially a mild form of autism that allows for self-sufficiency albeit with certain behavioral conditions and social limitations.

McKinnon would almost certainly face life in American prison (60 years is the estimate), a sentence which U.K. officials believe will force McKinnon to take matters into his own hands. For the U.K., this has become a matter of human rights.

Some of McKinnon's alleged cybercrimes are quite intriguing from the perspective of security, especially considering his deeds were performed via a dial-up connection across the pond.

If the aging list of charges are to be believed, McKinnon effectively crippled the entire U.S. Army's Military District of Washington network -- a feat lasting 24 hours and affecting more than 2000 computers across VA, MA and NY. He also gained access to a U.S. Army server responsible for managing 2,455 accounts, causing the associated computers to reboot and become inoperable. These acts (and more) were performed about a decade ago.

"Using his home computer the appellant, through the internet, identified US Government network computers with an open Microsoft Windows connection and from those extracted the identities of certain administrative accounts and associated passwords. Having gained access to those accounts he installed unauthorised remote access and administrative software called “remotely anywhere” that enabled him to access and alter data upon the American computers at any time and without detection..."

"Having gained access to these computers the appellant deleted data from them including critical operating system files from nine computers, the deletion of which shut down the entire US Army’s Military District of Washington network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours, significantly disrupting Governmental functions; 2,455 user accounts on a US Army computer that controlled access to an Army computer network, causing these computers to reboot and become inoperable; and logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle, one of which was used for monitoring the identity, location, physical condition, staffing and battle readiness of Navy ships, deletion of these files rendering the Base’s entire network of over 300 computers inoperable at a critical time immediately following 11 September 2001"


By the Pentagon's own estimate, McKinnon cost the government about $700,000 in damages.

In 2006, McKinnon told Wired magazine that he was looking for evidence of UFO and zero-point energy cover ups. He claims that he found photographic evidence of UFOs, but couldn't download the huge unprocessed files over his meager dial-up connection.

They had huge, high-resolution images stored in their picture files. They had filtered and unfiltered, or processed and unprocessed, files.

My dialup 56K connection was very slow trying to download one of these picture files. As this was happening, I had remote control of their desktop, and by adjusting it to 4-bit color and low screen resolution, I was able to briefly see one of these pictures. It was a silvery, cigar-shaped object with geodesic spheres on either side.


User Comments: 21

Got something to say? Post a comment
bexwhitt said:

Speaks more to the ineptitude of the US military I.T. than anything this poor sap did. Smack him on the wrist and say don't do it again

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ten years ago, my God it's time to drop the issue and move on.

avoidz avoidz said:

So when does he get put on the US Government payroll?

Guest said:

A bit off topic, but did anyone think of this when they saw his pic..

dms96960 said:

I wonder if the Brits are going to find his body in a year and determine that he committed "suicide"?


"He claims that he found photographic evidence of UFOs, but couldn't download the huge unprocessed files over his meager dial-up connection."

Seems legit.

Guest said:

Good, more countries need to start standing up against the US who think they can police the world. While it was a conditional "no" due to the situation, this should be a more common occurrence.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I wonder if the Brits are going to find his body in a year and determine that he committed "suicide"?

No I thought of the first spiderman movie tbh.

Guest said:

@NTAPRO: Yes, because an "unidentified flying object" is inconceivable. Similar to having a 56k modem internet connection in the United Kingdom over a decade ago.

Guest said:

Yeah, the world shouldn't extradite people to the US that do malicious harm to US networks. troll.

Though, given his autism, I don't begrudge this one. But at least find something legit to resist the US on.

Guest said:

Maybe you're just short sighted, but I wasn't trolling. I believe you should be punished in your country by your own country's laws. Especially if you were physically in your own country at the time....

Visit a foreign country and steal a loaf of bread because you're starving, should you be punished by the laws of your own country, or by that foreign country (possibly have your hand chopped off)... While it almost makes sense to have your hand chopped off since you broke the law in that country and that is the consequence there... How can you say it makes sense to punish someone by a foreign law that they broke virtually?..

Seriously, you're the troll. He should go to prison but not in the US; in the UK.

Guest said:

Obviously, he committed the crime in brittain, so he should therefore be prosecuted in brittain.

Guest said:

There is no way he should go to prison anywhere, let alone 60 years in prison in the US... one of the most ludicrous cases ever.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

He commited the crime in america, anyway they should be offering him a job.....he can work from home...

j05hh j05hh said:

Working from home would be tough on a 56k dial up modem!

Tygerstrike said:

Ok if I'm reading these posts correctly. Ppl believe he commited a crime but shouldnt be punished for it? I dont give two shakes of a rats ass if he is Autistic. Ive known plenty of ppl with Aspergers. They are high functioning, just they have a few more "quirks" then other ppl. Ten years+ is awhile back, but that still doesnt change the fact that he broke into US military computers. Back then the Laws were just as mirky on the internet and crimes as they are now. Maybe not toss him in prison, but definatly make him pay for his crime. Jesus what are ppl turning into, bleeding hearts who fold like tissue? If you commited the crime, I"m 100% sure you would be expected to pay for your crime. Just seems like anymore ppl are willing to forgive anything when it happends to someone else. But when it happends to them they go coo coo for cocopuffs.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

If only this dude had a fibre line. I would have loved to see them UFO pics myself. The pics probably would have landed up on pirate bay. haha

Jack Reacher said:

Leave it to the Brits to claim "human rights" because this slug got caught violating the law and doesn't want to pay for the crime. That is what's wrong with society. Everyone is given a built-in excuse for being a dumbsh*t and committing crimes. Epic Fail here.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If they had an issue with someone ten years ago, they should have taken action ten years ago. People change over the coarse of time and should not be punished for something after ten years have passed. If someone is to be punished, they should be punished before they have a chance to change lifestyle or attitude. The epic fail here is not taking action ten years ago when the crime was committed.

Guest said:

The biggest fail here is "Jack Reacher", who is clearly a dink-schlink.

gingerbill said:

It's not often in recent in years justice is done but it has been here . Should have been done 10 years ago though and I fell sorry for the guy and his family.

The US is clearly abusing it's power in this instance , some of the claims they have made regarding this case are just nonsense and stupid. not good for the US's image abroad .

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.