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No Charges In UK For Gary McKinnon 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the end-of-a-long-road dept.
clickclickdrone sends this news from the BBC: "Computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the U.S., will not face charges in the U.K., the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said the chances of a successful conviction were 'not high.' He announced the decision some three months after Home Secretary Theresa May stopped the extradition. Mr. McKinnon, 46, admits accessing U.S. government computers but says he was looking for evidence of UFOs. The U.S. authorities tried to extradite him to face charges of causing $800,000 (£487,000) to military computer systems and he would have faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted."
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No Charges In UK For Gary McKinnon

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  • this: (Score:5, Informative)

    by samjam (256347) on Friday December 14, 2012 @12:35PM (#42287861) Homepage Journal

    The UK CPS declined to prosecute him originally and further decline to do so now.

    This trumps all other arguments.

  • Re:Is he free? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday December 14, 2012 @12:52PM (#42288073)

    So long as he stays in the UK, yes. The US still has an extradition warrant against him, so if he travels to another country he could be extradited from there (although it would depend on the judgment of those courts). Traveling to the US would obviously get him arrested.

  • by geekoid (135745) <[dadinportland] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:00PM (#42288147) Homepage Journal

    No. Its the cost of having people scour the systems for any damage he causes, compare the data against backups to chance for changes, deletion and any programs he left behind, for tracking him.
    This isn't One computer, it's a lot of computers on a lot of systems, and it costs money to have people do that work.
    As well as possible legal bills.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:05PM (#42288215) Journal

    He didn't of course.

    It's an outright lie by the US prosecutors, since they appear to lack any kind of moral fiber.

    It's equivalent to having a burglar walking in the front door then the homeowner claiming costs for upgrading all the locks are due to the burglar.

    Sure, they needed to trash and reinstall all of the machines. But they would have needed to do exactly that anyway when an internal audit showed they were insecure.

  • by Grumbleduke (789126) on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:24PM (#42288477) Journal

    For the record, according to one of the court rulings [bailii.org] he was accused of the following:

    "Between February 2001 and March 2002 he gained unauthorised access to 97 computers belonging to and used by the US Government... From those computers, he extracted the identities of certain administrative accounts and associated passwords. Having gained access to those administrative accounts, he installed unauthorised remote access and administrative software called "remotely anywhere" that enabled him to access and alter data upon the American computers at any time and without detection by virtue of the programme masquerading as a Windows operating system.

    Once "remotely anywhere" was installed, Mr McKinnon proceeded to install his "suite of hacking tools" – software that he used to facilitate further compromises to the computers which also facilitated the concealment of his activities. Using this software, he was able to scan over 73,000 US Government computers for other computers and networks susceptible to compromise in a similar fashion. He was thus able to lever himself from network to network and into a number of significant Government computers in different parts of the USA. The relevant ones were:

    1. 53 Army computers, including computers based in Virginia and Washington that controlled the Army's Military District of Washington network and are used in furtherance of national defence and security [charges 1 to 2]
    2. 26 Navy computers, including US Naval Weapons Station Earle, New Jersey. This was responsible for replenishing munitions and supplies for the deployed Atlantic Fleet [charges 6 to 8]
    3. 16 NASA computers [charges 12 to 15]
    4. 1 Department of Defense computer [charges 17 to 18].

    Once the computers were accessible by Mr McKinnon, he deleted data including:

    1. Critical operating system files from nine computers, the deletion of which shut down the entire US Army's Military District of Washington network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours, significantly disrupting Governmental functions
    2. 2,455 user accounts on a US Army computer that controlled access to an Army computer network, causing those computers to reboot and become inoperable
    3. Critical Operating system files and logs from computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle, one of which was used for monitoring the identity, location, physical condition, staffing and battle readiness of Navy ships. Deletion of these files rendered the Base's entire network of over 300 computers inoperable at a critical time immediately following 11 September 2001 and thereafter left the network vulnerable to other intruders.

    He also copied data and files onto his own computers, including operating system files containing account names and encrypted passwords from 22 computers. These comprised:

    1. 189 files from US Army computers
    2. 35 files from US Navy computers, including approximately 950 passwords from server computers at Naval Weapons Station Earle
    3. 6 files from NASA computers

    Mr McKinnon's conduct was intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US Government by intimidation and coercion. As a result of his conduct, damage was caused to computers by impairing their integrity, availability and operation of programmes, systems, information and data on the computers, rendering them unreliable. The cost of repair totalled over $700,000."

    Slightly more than a burglar walking in the front door and claiming the costs of upgrading the locks. More like breaking in (maybe through a weak door), completely trashing the place and leaving.

  • by Grumbleduke (789126) on Friday December 14, 2012 @01:42PM (#42288757) Journal

    Was it " intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US Government by intimidation and coercion"?

    Well the damage was obviously intentional, and it was calculated to influence the Government (even if it didn't) as evidenced by the note he admitted to leaving behind which read:

    "US foreign policy is akin to Government-sponsored terrorism these days It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand down on September 11 last year I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels "

    That sounds rather like an attempt at intimidation and coercion (however pathetic) to me...

  • Re:Is he free? (Score:4, Informative)

    by xaxa (988988) on Friday December 14, 2012 @02:36PM (#42289359)

    Aren't there laws in the UK that allow holding 'suspected terrorists' for as long as they want? So not getting charged may not mean much.

    No. For "terrorism" it's 14 days, after a reduction from 28, and an attempt by the government to increase it to 42. See https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/terrorism/extended-pre-charge-detention/index.php [liberty-hu...hts.org.uk]

    See http://www.yourrights.org.uk/yourrights/the-rights-of-suspects/police-powers-of-arrest/police-detention.html [yourrights.org.uk] for the case for normal offences (24 hours, possibly extension to 36).

  • Re:this: (Score:5, Informative)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Friday December 14, 2012 @02:59PM (#42289683)

    The UK CPS declined to prosecute him originally and further decline to do so now.

    And yet, McKinnon said he'd be willing to plead guilty if he was prosecuted in the UK.

    By letter dated 5 June 2009, the Claimant made further representations and indicated that he would be willing to plead guilty to an offence under section 3 of the 1990 Act. Accordingly, the Director was invited to reconsider the decision not to prosecute, since the evidential test was now satisfied, having regard to the wider public interest which, it was asserted, pointed to a prosecution in the United Kingdom. The Director was further invited to "have full regard to Article 3 and Article 8 of the Convention".

    Perhaps, it would have been too much of an embarrassment to the US if the guy had only received 6 months probation and a 1000 fine when what they really wanted was to set an example and have this autistic guy up-rooted from his own country/family, bullied and raped, and locked up in a Federal prison for the next 60 years.

"It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try, but the result's the same." - Mike Dennison

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