Asperger’s used as defense in hacking case

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The U.S. government alleges that between February 2001 and March 2002, Scottish citizen Gary McKinnon went on a hacking spree of hundreds of U.S. military computers.

In what one U.S. attorney called “the biggest military computer hack of all time” McKinnon surfed around for months copying files and passwords, at one point taking down the Army’s entire Washington, D.C. computer network for three days.

The government claims McKinnon threatened national security, caused hundreds of thousand dollars of damage to it’s high tech networks, and should be extradited to the U.S and if convicted, imprisoned.

But McKinnon also has Asperger’s Syndrome,  and that’s raising questions about how he should be prosecuted. Asperger’s is a high-functioning form of Autism. A person with the condition often has difficulty in social situations and intense interests in certain things.

McKinnon’s lawyers say that his Asperger’s influenced his actions and that he shouldn’t be charged as a terrorist in the U.S.

David Kushner, who’s been following this story for IEEE Spectrum Magazine, has been seeing more cases using the “Asperger’s defense.”

Read more on the Here and Now website.


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