He admitted to hacking into 97 US military and NASA computers from his London home in 2001 and 2002, causing $1.15 million worth of damage. He said he was looking for evidence of UFOs and aliens, and now music legend Sting’s wife is publicly supporting him.
Gary McKinnon, 43, who has Asperger syndrome, the same autistic condition as Dustin Hoffman’s character Rain Man, lost his appeal in the High Court to avoid extradition. If found guilty, he could spend up to 70 years or the rest of his life in jail.
Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler, is publicly supporting the computer hacker in opposition to his extradition to the United States. In a recent survey, 71% Say Extradition of UFO Hacker Gary McKinnon is wrong.
For the past seven years, the Pentagon hacker and UFO buff Gary McKinnon has – according to his family and friends – been suffering one long anxiety attack. He’s prone to regular fits of fainting and thoughts of suicide. He’s written that he can’t look himself in his eyes when he’s shaving in case the sight of himself sets the spiral off. He jumps out of his skin if someone touches him by surprise. I’ve met him sporadically during these years and can vouch that he’s a chain-smoking, terrified shell.
“I’m walking down the road and I find I can’t control my own legs,” he has told me. “And I’m sitting up all night thinking about jail. About male rape. An American jail. I’m only a little nerd … My life is like walking through a world you know is probably going to end.”
He was born in Glasgow in 1966, but grew up in London with his mother Janis and stepfather Wilson, a UFO fan. Wilson would spellbind Gary with stories of cigar-shaped objects floating over Bonnybridge, near Falkirk. Entranced, the teenage Gary joined Bufora, the British UFO Research Association. But he found the paranormal buffs who gathered there to be fainthearted hobbyists not interested in accumulating hardcore evidence. McKinnon was more earnest than that. He was especially intrigued by the question of how UFOs were fuelled. It seemed obvious to him they couldn’t run on oil, because no oil tank could ever be big enough to get them across galaxies. So, he concluded, the extraterrestrials must have invented some kind of advanced, clean energy. And the US surely knew about it. They must have dissected crashed ET craft and learnt how to build their own oil-free vehicles. The thought of this incensed McKinnon as he sat in his new girlfriend’s aunt’s basement flat in Crouch End.
“We’re having wars over oil,” he told a journalist from the UFO group Project Camelot in 2006. “We’re burning fossil fuels. Pensioners are dying in Britain because they can’t afford to heat themselves. So why on earth is this technology being sat on?”
His testimony offers a compelling argument against conspiracy theories. He spent between five and seven years roaming the corridors of power like the Invisible Man, wandering into Pentagon offices, rifling through files, and he found no particular smoking gun about anything. He unearthed nothing to suggest a US involvement in 9/11, nothing to suggest a UFO cover-up. Nothing, he told me, except two things.
“I found a list of officers’ names,” he said during our first meeting in 2003, “under the heading “Non-Terrestrial Officers”. I looked it up and it’s nowhere. I don’t think it means little green men. What I think it means is not Earth-based. What I saw made me believe that they have some kind of spaceship, off planet.”
The other thing he said he saw towards the end of his hacking adventures – in the final days before the UK National Hi-Tech Crime Unit swooped – was a photograph of a smooth, spherical object in a file at the Johnson Space Center that “might have been a UFO but was probably a satellite”.
He was arrested in November 2002. US prosecutors had identified him because he’d used his own email address to download a program called Remotely Anywhere. But it was inevitable because he was sloppy and “not a secretive, sophisticated, checking-myself-every step-of-the-way type of hacker”.
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