Top counsel and human rights activists will support self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon when he goes to the House of Lords on Monday to fight his extradition to the US.
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David Pannick, a specialist public and human rights QC who has argued many times before the lords, is instructed by McKinnon's attorney, Karen Todner. Human rights watchdog Liberty is also throwing its weight behind McKinnon.
Pannick previously represented intelligence whistleblower Peter Wright in the Spycatcher case. More recently he acted for human rights watchdog Liberty, arguing that detention of terrorism suspects without trial is illegal. Opposing him will be the Crown Prosecution Service, which is acting for the US government.
The US government accuses McKinnon of breaking into the computer network at the Earle Naval Weapons Station, stealing computer passwords, and shutting down the network in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A second indictment charges McKinnon with intentional damage to a protected computer, with intrusions into 92 computer systems belonging to the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA.
McKinnon is also charged with hacking into two computers located at the Pentagon and six private companies' networks. He is accused of causing approximately £450,000 in damages to computers located in 14 states.
"As a result of the intrusions into the US military networks, McKinnon rendered the network for the military district of Washington inoperable," a US Attorney statementsaid.
McKinnon admits entering US computer systems without authorisation, but denies causing damage or non-operation of any of them.
If convicted, McKinnon could face 60 years in a US jail.
Members of the former National High Tech Crime Unit arrested McKinnon in 2002, three years after he began looking for evidence of extra-terrestrial beings and technologies on US computers, McKinnon told Computer Weekly.
British taxpayers will pay both the CPS's costs and much of McKinnon's. The total so far is estimated to be close to £900,000.
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For more, see: Hacker Gary McKinnon - Computer Weekly Essential Guide
Photo: Copyright Ian Grant 2008