NASA hacker Gary McKinnon given a lifeline.. for now

Filed Under: Law & order

Gary McKinnon, the British man who broke his way into computer systems belonging to NASA, Department of Defense, the US Army, US Navy and US Army, has been thrown a lifeline by the UK establishment in his continuing fight to avoid extradition.

Yesterday, at the Royal Courts of Justice, McKinnon told reporters that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was refusing to extradite him to the United States until Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, had decided whether to prosecute the hacker in the UK.

The development follows McKinnon's promise earlier this month to the Crown Prosecution Service that he would plead guilty, if tried in his country of birth.

McKinnon must be a cat with nine lives, as he has wriggled and squirmed time after time in his attempts to avoid prosecution in the USA. Jacqui Smith's decision to delay extradition pending an examination by Keir Starmer has given him a lifeline that he might not have dared dreamt about.

Whether he manages ultimately to avoid extradition remains to be seen - but one certainty is that his lawyers and supporters have done a great job at keeping him out of the USA so far, and his case in the headlines.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog at, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley