Britain's top court refused Wednesday to stop the extradition to the U.S. of a British hacker accused of breaking into Pentagon and NASA computers — something he claims to have done while hunting for information on UFOs.
Gary McKinnon, 42, faces charges in the United States for what officials say were a series of cyber attacks that stole passwords, attacked military networks and wrought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computer damage.
The decision by Britain's House of Lords was his last legal option in this country, but his lawyer said she would appeal his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
"The consequences he faces if extradited are both disproportionate and intolerable and we will be making an immediate application to the European court to prevent his removal," Karen Todner said after McKinnon's appeal was rejected. "We believe that the British government declined to prosecute him to enable the U.S. government to make an example of him."
McKinnon's supporters say he faces unjust treatment and the prospect of a harsh sentence at the hands of a U.S. court and want him freed — or at least tried in Britain.
Prosecutors allege that McKinnon hacked into more than 90 computer systems belonging to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA between February 2001 and March 2002, causing $900,000 worth of damage.
McKinnon has acknowledged accessing the computers, but he disputes the reported damage and said he did it because he wanted to find evidence that America was concealing the existence of aliens.
McKinnon was caught in 2002 after some of the software used in the attacks was traced back to his girlfriend's e-mail account.