Hacking is wrong, but abuse of process is wronger …


“Lawyers for Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon told the House of Lords US authorities had warned him he faced a long jail sentence if he did not plead guilty.

“The systems analyst is accused of gaining access to 97 US military and Nasa computers from his London home.

“Known as Solo, he was arrested in 2002 but never charged in the UK.”

So far, so bad.  Breaking into computers has very little justification, and “just having fun” isn’t exactly a defence.  However:

“Without co-operation, the case could be treated as a terrorism case, which could result in up to a 60-year sentence in a maximum security prison should he be found guilty on all six indictments.

“With co-operation, he would receive a lesser sentence of 37 to 46 months, be repatriated to the UK, where he could be released on parole and charges of `significantly damaging national security’ would be dropped.

“A US embassy legal official quoted New Jersey authorities saying they wanted to see him `fry’.”

This bothers me.  A lot.  It’s too much like security theatre, as well as being flat-out immoral.  He did something wrong: he should be punished.  But he should be convicted properly, and punished appropriately, not intimidated into pleading guilty in order to inflate someone’s prosecution records.

  • Paul Schmehl

    OTOH, he broke into a number of sites, got caught but apparently refuses to cooperate, forcing the government to conduct a lengthy, expensive trial to find him guilty.

    The deal seems like a no-brainer to me. Admit what you did and essentially get off scot free or refuse to cooperate and do hard time. Deals like this are struck all the time to safe the cost of a trial when the client is guilty and both he and the government know it.

  • Jason

    The problem is, they are asking him to admit that he causes a few thousand dollars worth of damage during his snooping, which he denies.

    He says he hacked the systems for sure.

    I’ll come back with links.

  • Jason


    McKinnon has admitted taking advantage of lax security in US systems to install covert software that gave him control of settings and access to files. He was looking for evidence of UFOs. He has not admitted causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage, a claim at the heart of the US government’s allegations.

  • Heinrich

    Which is worse? Hackers or freedom fighters?
    Cause to me they are the same… Looking for UFO’s a crime?!?! I believed the earth wasnt round like “they” tell us, but fortunatly for my lack of concentration i forgot about it and continue to live, but we all have passions dont we?