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Hacker Gary McKinnon's asperger review

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Damon Rose Damon Rose | 17:59 UK time, Tuesday, 28 July 2009

[updated] Gary McKinnon loses extradition appeal (BBC News, Friday 31 July)

Gary McKinnon is the 43 year old man waiting to find out if he is to be extradited to the US on charges of hacking into military computers in the USA. On Friday, the next chapter in the story will open, or close, as we find out the results of a judicial review into his extradition to the US to face trial.

Mr McKinnon admits hacking into 97 US government computers, including those of Nasa and the Pentagon, during 2001 and 2002.

The judicial review focuses on whether Mr McKinnon should have been allowed to face trial in the UK and whether the decision to extradite him should have been reconsidered in light of a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome last year.

If found guilty, McKinnon could be facing a 70 year prison sentence.

It is said that his autism spectrum disorder will lead to him suffering acutely if removed from his own country, friends and family. Further, McKinnon and his supporters say he is not a malicious cyber criminal and that his hacking is a symptom of his neuro untypical behaviour and obsessions. One US prosecutor accused him of committing "the biggest military computer hack of all time" and it is felt that the US government is likely to be hard on him in order to deter others.

Mr McKinnon recently told BBC 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire that he was on a "moral crusade" to prove US intelligence had found an alien craft run on clean fuel.

A user called Knellerman posted the folllowing on Victoria's blog during the show:

How Asperger's works.

My son has it. One day at end of school he pulled out a fence post and ran across the field. The head saw this and called it vandalism.

I asked him what he thought he was doing. He said he had spotted some dog poo and wanted to move it so younger children would not fall into it.

The head's heart melted. Welcome to Asperger's: Right motive, wrong action.

Gary was looking for UFOs, not hacking into military secrets. My son's behaviour was impulsive but that impulsive behavior can become obbsessive, as in Gary's case. What do I know? I was diagnosed with AS at the age of 50.

Video: BBC's Huw Edwards interviews Gary McKinnon - 30 July 2008

Interview with Gary who explains his motives. He talks to the BBC's Spencer Kelly about and antigravity and other technologies that are being hidden from us and which he was hoping to uncover. Also discussed is the lack of security in the US department of defence and details of his hacking exploits across two years.

Hacker Gary McKinnon will receive no pity, insists US - Telegraph

Free Gary campaign.


  • Comment number 1.

    There was a play on Radio 4, some time back, that dramatized Gary McKinnon's 'hacking' and its consequences. I don't know whether it's available on iPlayer, or anywhere on the BBC's websites, but it is well worth listening to (or reading, if you can get your hands on the script). It demonstrates just what his intentions were; and the fact that he did no harm whatsoever... -- in fact, he probably did the paranoid US military a favour: in pointing out just how lax their security was....

    Please don't let this man suffer any more. I know what it is like to have Asperger's. And he should not be punished (more) for being slightly different to the majority....

  • Comment number 2.

    Les UFOLOGUES FRANCAIS sont avec toi Gary, nous espérons (we hopes that Mister Obama is not mister Bush.

    This short cut in two part is in memorie of Gary looking for since many years .

    and part 2

  • Comment number 3.

    whilst i am no computer nerd ,I think that Gary will get a lot of support from those very real hackers ,who in sympathy for him who may unleash such a torrant of attacks on the US systems that they could go into meltdown .

    I think the US are playing with fire.
    Also this episode will encourage unfrendly nations or even suppoedly frendly ones to launch their own attacks to find out US secrets or destroy them , for their own agendas.
    On how tough their security systems are as published,worldwide.

  • Comment number 4.


    I think that the United Kingdom should extradite Mr. McKinnon to the United States; because he is accused of some serious crimes...

    *He is presumed innocent until proven guilty*

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 5.

    The U S should be employing him not punishing him .He has shown them their security is not good enough .They should be asking him how to improve it .

  • Comment number 6.

    I wonder why his family why his family has waited 43 yrs to get him diagnosed as having autism. Also too his parents must have known something was wrong prior to being diagnosed because of extreme understanding of how to work on computers and how cleverly how Gary can hack into computers where others haven't hacked into before. I think on the grounds of his disability he needs to be near his family I also think he should in secure accommodation until the specialist can work a way to distract his extreme interest into hacking into computer systems I think the ruling by the states is a unsafe one and Gary as a British citizen should stay here under close supervision I personally believe the US won't take notice of his autism or his lack of undersatnding in some areas than others it would compromise his mentality and state of mind too but I think he should get some sort of a constitutive sentence so what ever his sentence will be he will understand the cause and effect of the crime he committed hopefully yeah because he has a disability it does not mean he cannot being punished for a for a crime he has admitted to because he has autism he needs to learn in some way he did wrong he needs to learn the consequences of his actions, but I do agree he should not be sent to the US as I too he will not be supported or looked after over there in my opinion I think he will ridiculed by the judicial system there so like many people I support him being charged and imprison him over here but not in the US as they strongly want

  • Comment number 7.

    In reply to Daniel R305 diagnosing Austistic spectrum and related disorders is not straightforward and years ago proceedures and knowledge of these conditions was not as good as today. His parents would have lost parental authority when he reached majority and with this disability he would probably not have realised there was a problem. Diagnosis would have involved child psychologists and education system rather than medical services and many schools nowadays are not happy to make these referrals as there is an additional cost involved in supporting children with these conditions. We have recently been through a situation where two of my 4 grandchildren are Autistic spectrum and diagnosed at nursery, however we were obstructed by the primary school in getting diagnosis for a third child of ADHD despite complaints about her disruptive behaviour. This took quite a long time to circumvent and included assistance from Social Services, and special needs agencys together with the assistance of a Paediatrician who agreed to assessment based on the history of the family as a whole. As there appears to be a genetic link in the family to these conditions it is likely that our fourth granddaughter will in time need to go through a similar process


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