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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Military 'hacker' freed on bail
Gary McKinnon leaving court
Gary McKinnon (seen through vehicle window) after the hearing
A British man arrested for allegedly carrying out the "biggest military computer hack of all time" has been released on bail by magistrates.

Gary McKinnon, accused of hacking into 53 US military and Nasa computers in 2001 and 2002, appeared before Bow Street magistrates in London.

The 39-year-old, of Wood Green, north London, will be back in court for an extradition hearing on 27 July.

His lawyer said he would contest extradition to the US "vigorously".

She told reporters: "Of particular concern to him is the treatment of other British nationals under the American judicial system which inspires little confidence.

"We believe that as a British national, he should be tried here in our courts by a British jury and not in the US."

Mr McKinnon, an unemployed computer systems administrator, is known on the internet as "Solo".

He is accused of hacking into computer networks operated by Nasa, the US Army, US Navy, Department of Defence and the US Air Force.

Mr McKinnon is charged with the biggest military computer hack of all time
Paul McNulty
US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia

One of the networks belonged to the Pentagon.

The US estimates the costs of tracking and correcting the problems he allegedly caused were around $1m (570,000).

If he is extradited and found guilty, Mr McKinnon faces a long sentence in the US.

The Briton was indicted in 2002 by a federal grand jury on eight counts of computer-related crimes in 14 different states.

It claimed that he hacked into an army computer at Fort Myer, Virginia, obtained administrator privileges and transmitted codes, information and commands.

Unauthorised access

He is accused of then deleting around 1,300 user accounts.

The indictment alleged Mr McKinnon also deleted "critical system files" on the computer, copied a file containing usernames and encrypted passwords for the computer and installed tools to gain unauthorised access to other computers.

At the time of the indictment Paul McNulty, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said: "Mr McKinnon is charged with the biggest military computer hack of all time."

Mr McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, estimates he could face a maximum 70-year jail sentence if convicted in the US.

She says he does not deny infiltrating US systems but says his motivation was to try to prove the existence of UFOs and to expose security failures.

See the naval base that he allegedly hacked

UK 'hacker' wanted by US
13 Nov 02 |  Americas

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