British hacker fails to avoid extradition to America

LONDON: A British man accused of hacking into American military computers has failed in his latest bid to avoid extradition to the US, his lawyer said today.

Gary McKinnon is charged with breaking into dozens of computers belonging to NASA, the US Defence Department and several branches of the US military soon after the September 11 attacks. US prosecutors have spent seven years seeking his extradition.

The 43-year-old claims he was searching for evidence of alien life, although prosecutors say he left a message on an Army computer criticising US foreign policy.

The High Court decision denies McKinnon the possibility of taking his case to the country’s new Supreme Court - the latest in a series of blows to his campaign to remain in Britain.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said that extradition was “a lawful and proportionate response” to McKinnon’s alleged crimes and that the

legal issues raised by

the case were not

important enough to be considered by the nation’s highest court.

McKinnon’s attorney, Karen Todner, said she was not giving up.

“The legal team are now considering our position and we will exhaust every avenue to prevent Gary’s extradition,” she said after the ruling.

She added that lawyers were considering taking the case back to the

European Court of

Human Rights, which

has previously refused to stop his extradition.

McKinnon’s supporters argue that he is autistic and should not be put through the ordeal of a custodial sentence across the Atlantic.

McKinnon has offered to plead guilty to a hacking charge in Britain in order to avoid extradition, but prosecutors here turned down the legal gambit earlier this year, saying the US was the proper venue for a trial.

The case has attracted significant attention in Britain, where it has

been a touchstone for

debate about the country’s fast-track extradition treaty with Washington - signed in the wake of

September 11 - and wider US-British relations.