British Hacker Extradited to U.S.

A British computer expert accused of hacking into U.S. military computers will now face extradition to the United States in order to face charges, after England's Interior Minister John Reid signed an order to begin the process.

Gary McKinnon, otherwise known by his hacking handle "Solo," has been fighting extradition since 2002. He has admitted to hacking into the servers, however denies doing any damage. McKinnon says his attacks were motivated by a search for "suppressed technology."

According to the U.S. government, the Polish-born McKinnon caused $700,000 worth of damage and rendered critical systems inoperable at Earle Naval Weapons Station in northern New Jersey shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

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The Justice Department claimed it took nearly a month to return the servers to operation following McKinnon's actions.

If convicted, McKinnon could be liable for up to $1.75 million in fines and a 70-year jail term. Government attorneys call his activities the "biggest military computer hack of all time." British authorities said he would have 14 days to appeal the judgment.

McKinnon told BBC News that he was "very worried and feeling very let down by my own government." Additionally, he complained there was no way he'd receive a fair trial since he had "already been hung and quartered over there."

Lawyers for the man also argued that he could be stripped of his legal rights by being labeled a terrorist, and feared the U.S. government could send him to Guantanamo Bay as a result. However, the UK government has received assurances that this would not be the case, which is part of the reason why the extradition was approved.

Supporters of McKinnon have condemned the order, saying he was used as a scapegoat to cover up lax security on military servers.

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