December 15 2009, a picture was taken of Janis Sharp, Gary McKinnon’s mother, along with the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg outside the Home Office in Westminster. The two were there to protest against the extradition of McKinnon to the US on charges of computer fraud. Eight years earlier, McKinnon had hacked into Pentagon and Nasa networks repeatedly using the name “Solo.”
McKinnon sufferes from Asperger’s Syndrome and was living with his girlfriend in 2001 in a flat in north London. He was suffering through a bout of depression being without a regular job, and he spent most of his time alone in a room on his computer. Upon his arrest in 2002, it came to light that he had hacked into 97 US government computers between 2001 and 2002. According to US officials, his actions caused networks to shut down, damaged computers and incurred costs of $800,000. McKinnon said he had been looking for evidence of UFOs. McKinnon shared how surprised he was during the hack at how easy it was to enter the US networks. There were no firewalls to break through, and many government staff did not even have passwords for him to crack. He left notes as he went, pointing out security deficiencies. His mother admits that what McKinnon did was wrong, but denies that he caused damage.
Six months after his arrest, McKinnon was indicted by the US government on eight counts of computer fraud. He remained out of prison until June 2005, when he was finally subjected to bail conditions, which consisted of him reporting to a police station every day and being forbidden from using a computer. Ever since the US began extradition proceedings later that year, McKinnon and his supporters have been fighting them.
McKinnon’s case now rests with Theresa May. May is only considering the medical evidence in her decision – the only grounds on which his extradition can be overturned. Courtesy of www.newstatesman.com