The UK government has approved the extradition of hacker Gary McKinnon to the US.
McKinnon was arrested in June last year following charges by US prosecutors that he illegally accessed 97 US government computers, including the Pentagon, Army, Navy and NASA systems, allegedly causing $700,000 (£400,000) worth of damage.
Home secretary John Reid signed the extradition order yesterday after a sustained court battle by McKinnon to block the US extradition request.
McKinnon claims he caused no intentional damage to the US government systems and that he was simply looking for evidence that the US government was hiding the existence of UFOs.
McKinnon faces up to 70 years in jail and fines of up to $1.75m. The Home Office says McKinnon has 14 days to appeal against Reid’s decision to extradite him.
In an on-line poll of 565 respondents conducted by internet security software firm Sophos, 52% said McKinnon should not be extradited, while 48% said it was correct for him to face a US court.
Graham Cluley, Sophos senior technology consultant, said, “It's fascinating to see how the IT community is split down the middle regarding Gary McKinnon. Many have expressed sympathy with his plight and think the British authorities have let him down by agreeing to extradite him to the US.
“This is in marked contrast to the tough reaction we normally hear from the public when alleged virus writers and hackers are making the headlines.”