Gary McKinnon, the British hacker who is still fighting against extradition to the US despite the European Court of Human Rights ruling he should go, has played yet another card in his battle for justice in the UK.
Apparently, lawyers representing McKinnon have told the British Crown Prosecution Service that he would be prepared to plead guilty to offences under the Computer Misuse Act if prosecuted in the UK. This rather than face trial for his crimes, where it is argued he would face lengthy prison time as a consequence of being something of a scapegoat for the authorities there. It has even been suggested he would face a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay.
Let us not forget that McKinnon is facing charges of breaking into systems not only belonging to NASA but also the US Army, Navy and Department of Defense - right after the 9/11 attacks. Many would argue that his actions deserve to be treated seriously, and if that means US jail time so be it.
If the 'plead guilty at home' gambit works, and he is both prosecuted and punished in the UK courts, it would make any ultimate extradition for the same crimes highly unlikely.
Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, reminds us however that "Any form of hacking is illegal and should be punished as such, and hacking into US government networks is bound to come with harsh repercussions – anyone thinking about engaging in these types of activities in the future should think twice. This man’s sorry tale should warn other would-be hackers that they are playing with fire if they break into sensitive networks, and shouldn’t be surprised if the full force of the law goes after them."