British hacker who broke into Pentagon may finally be sent to US

A British hacker who admitted hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life has lost his latest extradition appeal. After fighting the case for more than six years in UK courts, the British House of Lords officially dismissed his appeal.

Gary McKinnon, 42, admitted to illegally accessing around 100 U.S. military and government computers while living in his north London flat from Feb 2001 to March 2002. While roaming around the systems, he was caught after downloading an image that he thought could have been an alien spacecraft.

He reportedly crashed a computer network of 2,000 U.S. Army computers for one day, and also shut down 300 computers located at a U.S. Navy weapons facility.

McKinnon reportedly caused more than $700,000 in financial damage and first faced extradition to the United States in 2006. The U.S. requested his extradition in October 2004, but there was a two-year period where he was interviewed by UK computer crime investigators at the request of the U.S. government.

The U.S. District Court of Eastern District of Virginia had to spend a few additional months reassuring the British government that McKinnon will be offered a fair trial once he arrives on US shores. Specifically, Britain wanted reassurance McKinnon wouldn't be sent to Guantanamo Bay -- where the US holds suspected terrorists -- and will be eligible for parole.

In 2006 after it was confirmed the UK was interested in McKinnon's extradition to the U.S., critics claimed he was being made into a scapegoat because the U.S. military was unable to secure its own computer networks.

Now that all of his options in the UK have been exhausted, McKinnon is expected to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights, in an attempt to put a stay on the case until the possible ramifications of his extradition are studied.

"The biggest military hack of all time" could earn McKinnon at least 10 years in federal prison, and up to 70 years maximum if he is extradited and convicted.

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