Alleged NASA hacker gets temporary reprieve

Gary McKinnon, a British man who claims to have hacked into U.S. military systems amid an obsession with UFOs, is granted a two-week stay of extradition.

Tom Espiner Special to CNET News
2 min read

Gary McKinnon, a British man accused of hacking into U.S. military systems, has been granted a short stay of his extradition.

Last month, McKinnon lost his battle in the House of Lords against extradition to the U.S. to face charges of hacking various military systems. His final recourse now will be if the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) agrees to hear his appeal.

The London law firm representing McKinnon, Kaim Todner, stated on Tuesday that the ECHR will consider as soon as August 28 whether McKinnon can appeal.

"The presidents of the European Court (of) Human Rights have granted interim relief to Gary McKinnon for a period of two weeks, until 28 August, 2008, for the application to be heard before the full chamber," attorney Karen Todner said in a statement.

Gary McKinnon ZDNet UK

Todner was not available for comment at the time of writing. However, her colleague David Dinkeldein told ZDNet UK that because the ECHR will be considering the application, the U.K. government will not be able to extradite McKinnon for two weeks. The ECHR will be McKinnon's final chance to avoid extradition, if it agrees to hear his appeal.

"After the House of Lords, the European Court (of) Human Rights is the last court," Dinkeldein said.

McKinnon claims that he broke into Department of Defense and NASA systems up until 2001 in search of data on UFOs. However, if convicted of the charges leveled against him by the U.S., which include deliberately deleting sensitive military information, McKinnon could face up to 60 years in jail.

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.