British hacker Gary McKinnon has lost the first stage of his fight to avoid extradition to the US on hacking charges.
The decision was announced at Bow Street Magistrates' Court and McKinnon has said that he will appeal the verdict up to the highest court in the land. When he spoke to vnunet.com a fortnight ago he rated his chances at 50/50.
"I won't stand a chance in hell if I get extradited, because I will probably come under military order number one," he said.
"This means a secret military tribunal with a military lawyer, no rights of appeal, no rights of public comment and no press. It'll be Gary goes down a black hole and you don't see him again."
McKinnon was arrested in a joint operation between US and UK authorities in 2002. He was found guilty of hacking 97 US military computers between February 2001 and March 2002, causing damage estimated at $700,000 (£370,000).
McKinnon has always claimed that he did not intentionally cause harm, but was searching for information on UFOs that he believed the US government was suppressing. He claimed that he found hard evidence that UFOs exist.
Paul McNulty, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, described the McKinnon case as the "biggest military computer hack of all time".
It is now up to the Home Secretary to rule on whether McKinnon will be deported or whether he can face trial in the UK. If this decision goes against McKinnon, he can appeal to the High Court and then to the Law Lords.
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