Hacker Gary McKinnon is set to face extradition to the US following a Crown Prosecution Service ruling.
The service has refused to bring charges against him after a decision found that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute him, the evidence is not reflected in the criminality that is alleged by the American authorities.
McKinnon was arrested in 2002 after allegedly hacking into computers belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA. He claimed that he broke into the networks only to uncover confidential information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and extraterrestrial technology which he believed the authorities were hiding from the public.
Alison Saunders, head of the CPS organised crime division, told the Guardian that McKinnon's hacking activities ‘were not random experiments in computer hacking, but a deliberate effort to breach US defence systems at a critical time which caused well-documented damage. They may have been conducted from Mr McKinnon's home computer – and in that sense there is a UK link – but the target and the damage were transatlantic.'
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: “My own opinion is that when the really serious cybercriminals are the ones doing it for money, stealing identities and creating botnets, should we really be making such an example of a guy who appears to have been just a UFO conspiracy theory nut?
“There is a danger that McKinnon is being used as a whipping-boy by a country embarrassed about the poor security of its computers in the months after September 11 2001. Of course, a strong message has to be sent out to hackers that their activities are unacceptable. But there is clearly a difference between financially-motivated cybercriminals and enthusiastic amateurs like McKinnon doing it for kicks.”