British hacker Gary McKinnon, who allegedly hacked into US military computers in search of evidence on UFOs, has another chance at avoiding extradition after a court ruling Friday.
The High Court in London ruled that McKinnon can have his case reviewed by the director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, Keir Starmer, according to statement released by McKinnon's attorney.
McKinnon is seeking to be prosecuted in the UK although his extradition order has been approved by the UK government. He has managed to avoid extradition so far through a series of legal manoeuvres and appeals, all of which have been unsuccessful but held up his transfer to the US.
McKinnon was indicted in November 2002 in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He faces charges of illegally accessing and damaging US government computers.
The US government alleges his exploits cost at least US$700,000 and caused the shutdown of critical military networks shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. McKinnon could face a sentence of 60 years or more.
Most recently, McKinnon has tried to garner support that, for medical reasons, if he is extradited and sentenced he should be allowed to serve a sentence in the UK. Now McKinnon is pushing to only be prosecuted in the UK due to the stress he would endure from a US trial.
He has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, which is a neurological disorder characterised by obsessive behaviour and deficiencies in social interaction.
McKinnon has admitted to hacking the computers and described how he did it in detail at computer security conferences in London. From his north London home, McKinnon began probing military computers looking for evidence of UFOs.
He used a program called "RemotelyAnywhere" to control US military computers. Many of the computers he accessed were set up with default passwords, which made them easy to access, McKinnon has said.
He timed his hacking when no one was working at the US offices. But on one occasion he miscalculated the time difference. Someone using a computer that McKinnon controlled noticed the cursor moving on its own.
The connection was severed, and UK police eventually tracked McKinnon down.