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October 10, 2009

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Hacker's bid to stop being tried in US fails

A BRITISH man accused of hacking into United States military computers has failed in his latest bid to avoid extradition to the US, his lawyer said yesterday.

Gary McKinnon is charged with breaking into dozens of computers belonging to NASA, the US Department of Defense and several branches of the US military soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. US prosecutors have spent seven years seeking his extradition.

McKinnon claims he was searching for evidence of alien life, although prosecutors say he left a message on an Army computer criticizing US foreign policy.

Yesterday's decision denies McKinnon the possibility of taking his case to Britain's new Supreme Court -- the latest in a series of blows to his campaign to remain in Britain.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said that extradition was "a lawful and proportionate response" to McKinnon's alleged crimes.

McKinnon's attorney Karen Todner said she was not giving up.

McKinnon's supporters argue that the 43-year-old is autistic and should not be put through the ordeal of a custodial sentence in the US.

McKinnon's case has attracted significant attention in Britain, where it has served as touchstone for debate about the country's fast-track extradition treaty with the US -- signed in the wake of September 11 -- and wider US-British relations.

McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, said that her government was too willing to send its citizens to the US "as sacrificial lambs" to safeguard the pair's "special political relationship."

"To use my desperately vulnerable son in this way is despicable, immoral and devoid of humanity," she said after the ruling.


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