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09 October 2009, 15:07

Further setback for the "UFO hacker"

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Known as the "UFO hacker," UK citizen Gary McKinnon has had to accept defeat at the UK Supreme Court in his fight against his impending extradition to the US. The newly established Supreme Court will not hear the 43-year-old Scotsman's case and rejected his application for an appeal. This means that McKinnon has exhausted his last domestic judicial avenue and his extradition to the US authorities is getting closer.

The reason for the rejection of McKinnon's application given by the judges was that the case doesn't raise any legal issues relevant to the general public. The Supreme Court, which was established as part of the 2005 reformation of the UK legal system, has taken over the role of highest judicial authority from the UK House of Lords. The new court only began its work on the 1st of October 2009.

The US authorities accuse the Scot of having broken into the computers of numerous US government institutions between 2001 and 2002 and intend to try him for that. McKinnon has admitted obtaining access to computers run by NASA, the Pentagon and the US military in order to search for classified UFO information. While McKinnon, who has since been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (a form of autism) claims he was merely being curious, US prosecutors say they are investigating the "biggest military computer hack of all times".

With the Supreme Court's decision, McKinnon has exhausted all the judicial avenues in the UK. According to reports, his legal representatives are now considering their remaining options including presenting the case again at the European Court of Human Rights; the Strasbourg court previously dismissed an appeal by McKinnon in August last year. The Scot has the support of numerous politicians across all parties as well as human rights groups and celebrities. They accuse the UK government of sacrificing the protection of a citizen in favour of a questionable agreement with the US.

McKinnon is to be extradited due to an agreement made between the UK and the US in 2003 in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Although the US pressed charges in 2002, McKinnon was only apprehended in the UK in 2005. Since then, the Scot has repeatedly tried to prevent his extradition and have his case heard in the UK. His appeals were unsuccessful both in the UK courts and at the European Court of Human rights. The UK parliament also rejected the case. If tried in the US, McKinnon faces a maximum sentence of 70 years imprisonment.

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