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Hacker Gary McKinnon is entitled to his homeland security

PUBLISHED: 11:05 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 07 September 2010

THE story of how Gary McKinnon hacked into the inner sanctums of the Pentagon s supposedly impenetrable computer system in a search for information on UFOs has become a celebrated legal case, but is nothing short of an enduring nightmare for this young ma

THE story of how Gary McKinnon hacked into the inner sanctums of the Pentagon's supposedly impenetrable computer system in a search for information on UFOs has become a celebrated legal case, but is nothing short of an enduring nightmare for this young man and his family.

The American authorities might well have responded by offering him a job for life, given that there was no malice involved. Instead they have been determined to teach him a lesson, threatening him with detention in Guantanamo Bay and worse - if worse can be imagined.

Barack Obama's pledge to close down the concentration camp as quickly as possible should burst that particularly venomous bubble, but Mr McKinnon still faces the wrath of an embarrassed US military. One thing the world's one remaining superpower hates is to be embarrassed.

Of course Mr McKinnon should be punished, but the aggressive and vindictive manner in which the Americans have pursued this matter suggests that he is unlikely to receive a fair hearing across the Atlantic.

Hopefully his decision to plead guilty to a lesser charge will enable him to achieve a fairer hearing in this country. Condemning this misguided young man to detention in an American prison would be a crudely and cruelly excessive punishment for a foolish crime, which hurt no-one.


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