December 18th, 2014

On this day in true crime how an autistic genius hacked into U.S. military computers

Crime WorldBy Niamh O' Connor
Mckinnon.jpeg
Mckinnon.jpeg

British police arrested Aspergers syndrome sufferer Gary McKinnon on March 19 2002 after he hacked into U.S. military and NASA computers over a 13 month period causing chaos.

The computer genius, diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum by some of the world’s leading experts, had pulled off “the biggest military hack of all time” a U.S. prosecutor said.

McKinnon had hacked into 97 key computers at his girlfriend’s aunt’s house using the online name, ‘Solo’. In that time he deleted critical files shutting down military computers in the district of Washington, and posting the message, ‘Your security is crap.’

McKinnon, born in 1966 in Scotland, claimed he was looking for evidence that the U.S. government had been suppressing information about extraterrestrials.

For years he fought extradition to the United States where he was facing a possible ten year sentence.

In 2009, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour released a single, ‘Chicago – Change The World’ online - featuring Bob Geldof and Chrissie Hyne, and McKinnon - backing his case for clemency.

Finally, in October 2012 the U.K. home secretary, Theresa May blocked his extradition once and for all, sparking criticism from the U.S., which claimed tracking him down cost the US administration $700,000.

UFO conspiracy enthusiasts believe McKinnon was spared formal charges, and a public trial, because he had discovered the truth.