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According to the Observer newspaper this morning Gary McKinnon, the British hacker accused of what US prosecutors refer to the biggest military computer hack of all time, has claimed he was threatened with a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. His lawyers are using this as part of their defence against his extradition, arguing that such an attempt at getting McKinnon to accept a plea bargain were an unlawful abuse of the court process.

The Observer claims the lawyers say that US prosecutors suggested "he would be treated like a terrorist" if he did not agree to plead guilt at a US based trial.

McKinnon will find out sometime on Wednesday if the UK House of Lords will allow his appeal against extradition to the US on those charges, following a decision in favour of US prosecutors by the UK High Court back in 2006.

If found guilty of the charges against him, McKinnon faces up to 60 years in prison for the alleged hacking exercise for which he was arrested way back in 2002. McKinnon has always claimed he was just looking for proof that the US government knew aliens existed and that UFO sightings had been officially confirmed.

According to the Observer story, his supporters claim that if McKinnon had agreed to a deal offered during secret meetings at the US embassy in London, which involved the hacker pleading guilty at an American trial, he could have got a maximum of four years and even serve most of that in the UK.

Unfortunately, the Observer says, a file containing details of early meetings with US prosecutors during which the offer was made has gone missing from McKinnon's solicitor's office.

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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