Hacker with Asperger's syndrome gets reduced sentence

Asperger's syndrome saved a Los Angeles hacker from a longer prison sentence, it was reported today, bringing scant hope to self-confessed British hacker Gary McKinnon (pictured).

Asperger's syndrome saved a Los Angeles hacker from a longer prison sentence, it was reported today, bringing scant hope to self-confessed British hacker Gary McKinnon (pictured), who faces extradition to the US on hacking charges.

Viachelav Berkovich, an illegal Russian immigrant and Asperger's sufferer, received a 55-month sentence for his part in a man-in-the-middle attack on a shipment trucking website, according to a report in Wired.

This was five months less than the minimum recommended by the probation office and prosecutors, and 23 months less than the federal minimum. His co-defendant received 70 months for masterminding the scheme.

"The court tried to make a fair sentence [It] gave us some of what we asked for and did accept that Mr Berkovich suffered from Asperger's, but at the same time felt that this was serious and that a substantial prison sentence was called for to deter others," Kiana Sloan-Hillier, Berkovich's defence attorney, told Wired.

The decision brings scant hope to McKinnon, an Asperger's sufferer. McKinnon recently lost his latest appeal against extradition to the US, where he faces charges that he illegally hacked into hundreds of NASA, Pentagon and federal computers in 2001 and 2002, causing damage worth $700,000.

However, an internal assessment of the evidence available to the Crown Prosecution Service suggested the US case would not succeed in British courts, hence its decision not to prosecute McKinnon.

McKinnon faces up to 60 years in jail if convicted, but could serve as few as six if his sentences ran concurrently.

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