Where is Gary McKinnon these days?
Gary McKinnon is a Scottish hacker who is popularly known for conducting the biggest cyberattack in American military history ever. He was accused of breaching the security protection of NASA and US Security networks between February 2001 and March 2002.
However, Gary didn’t consider himself a cybercriminal. He stated that he was only looking for proof of UFO activities, evidence of free energy suppression, and other hidden technological advances that can benefit the general public.
On 12th October 2012, he got a big relief from the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom after she blocked his extradition to the United States.
Gary McKinnon was born on February 10, 1966, in Glasgow, Scotland. He got his first computer at the age of 14 and was pretty fascinated by it. At the age of 17, he left school and became a hairdresser.
In the early 1990s, after seeing his brilliance in computers, his friends suggested getting a higher qualification in the computer field. Following his friends’ suggestions, Gary completed a special course and became a master in hacking. He started doing contract work in the computing field. The contract work was usually based on networks and the internet.
Later in the late 1990s, McKinnon decided to use his hacking skills to find out the hidden secrets of the US government. He believed that US Defense is hiding critical information about UFO findings.
As a general user, your system or email contains a lot of sensitive information. You will be frustrated after it becomes difficult to restore data and recover your email account after getting hacked. US government was in the same situation when McKinnon hacked their systems and networks. In the process of researching for hidden secrets, Gary McKinnon became obsessed with infiltrating the security defense of the US government’s websites. The US government accused him of the following crimes:
- Between February 2001 and March 2002, Gary infiltrated about 97 computers and networks of US Army, Airforce, Navy, and Department of Defense computers.
- During that period, he also hacked 16 computers at NASA.
- Few months after the attack of September 11, 2001, McKinnon altered and deleted various confidential files such as weapons logs of the US Naval air station.
- He deleted essential files from the operating system, which causes the shutdown of the network of over 2000 computers for 24 hours in the United States Army’s Military Office of Washington.
- He copied data, essential files, and passwords into his own computer system during his hacking process.
The US government stated that the cost of correcting the wrongdoings caused by him was over $800,000. They also described his actions to be intentional and done for influencing the US government by intimidation. It is contrary to Gary’s statement which states that he did all this just for public benefits.
The Legal Battle
The troubles for Gary McKinnon begin after the American authority demanded the extradition of him on the grounds of hacking their security system and causing $800,000 worth of damage to their networks and computers. He was questioned several times by the UK police and the UK National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) between March 2002 and August 2002. His computer and other related assets were seized.
The United States court indicted Gary for seven computer-related crimes, each carrying a potential ten-year jail sentence. That means if extradited to the US government, Gary McKinnon could have served about 70 years in prison.
How he avoided extradition to the United States?
Till 2005 Gary lived a free life without any restrictions. From 2005 he was subjected to various bail restrictions, which includes requiring him to sign at his local police station every evening. He gave several interviews during his trial and gain both commoners’ and celebrities’ support.
One of his significant arguments against extradition was that he believed he would not get a fair trial in the US and would be punished more severely because he had contested the extradition process.
During the trial in August 2008, he was diagnosed with a type of Autism – Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s syndrome sufferers commonly become obsessed with specific activities and interests. They are known to have a level of social naiveté when it comes to evaluating the consequences of their actions.
Taking his Autism into account on October 16, 2012, the then UK Home Secretary Theresa May declared that Gary McKinnon must not be extradited. She stated that McKinnon is seriously ill, and extradition might force him to take his life, which would violate his human rights.
Where is Gary McKinnon these days?
After the verdict of 2012, Gary McKinnon has left the hacking business and started providing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services to companies and organizations through SmallSeo.co.uk. He began to write blogs and giving lectures on his experience in programming, network implementation, and others. You can read his profile here. There is no news of him in the past few years; maybe he is just living an anonymous life.