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UK 'hacker' fights US extradition

The extradition hearing of a British man accused of hacking into the US military computer system has begun. Gary McKinnon, 39, is accused of hacking into 97 US government computers between February 2001 and March 2002, causing damage estimated at £370,000. Mr McKinnon, of Wood Green, north London, is also accused of deleting files and logs from computers. He is "vigorously contesting" extradition. On Wednesday, London's Bow Street Magistrates' Court heard allegations that Mr McKinnon accessed 53 US Army computers, 26 US Navy computers, 16 Nasa computers, one US Department of Defence computer and one US Air Force computer. Mark Summers, representing the US government, said: "During a period from February 2001 to March 2002, the defendant gained unauthorised access to 97 government computers. "He was acting from his own computer in London. "Via the Internet, the defendant identified US government network computers with an open Microsoft Windows connection." He said Mr McKinnon had gone on to install unauthorised remote access and administration software, which enabled the Briton to remotely control and alter data on the US computers without detection. Bail conditions He added that the Briton was able to scan over 73,000 US government computers and was subsequently able to "lever himself from network to network and into a total of 97 government computers throughout the US". "The defendant's conduct was intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US government by intimidation and coercion," said Mr Summers. The case has been adjourned and Mr McKinnon was granted bail to appear again at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on 18 October. District Judge Nicholas Evans ordered him to report to his local police station twice a week. Contesting extradition As part of his bail conditions, Mr McKinnon was ordered not to apply for any international travel documents and told not to use any computer equipment allowing him to access the Internet. Speaking outside court, Mr McKinnon's solicitor Karen Todner said her client "vigorously contested his extradition". Mr McKinnon was first arrested in 2002 but action against him was discontinued. Referring to this, his solicitor added: "It is unknown why there has been such a delay in requesting such extradition. "The British public need to ask themselves why British citizens are being extradited to the USA when the US government has not signed the extradition treaty between the two countries."

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