US military hacking suspect freed on bail

A British computer hacker wanted by US authorities for allegedly causing £375,000 in damage to US military networks has been freed on bail.

A British computer hacker wanted by US authorities for allegedly causing £375,000 in damage to US military networks has been freed on bail.

Gary McKinnon from north London is alleged to have caused the damage to US computer systems between 2000 and 2002, when he hacked into systems operated by Nasa, the Department of Defense and the US army, navy and airforce.

It is alleged McKinnon deleted "critical system files" and about 1,300 users accounts, copied a file containing user names and encrypted passwords and installed tools to gain unauthorised access to other computers.

McKinnon was originally arrested three years ago and then released, but the US government has now started extradition proceedings to take him to the US for trial.

His lawyers said McKinnon should stand trial in the UK. They also said his hacking was motivated by his desire to prove how easy it was to break into military systems and his belief that the US authorities were hiding information that confirmed the existence of extra terrestrials.

While on bail McKinnon is not allowed to access computers connected to the internet. Under US law, if he is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail.

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