IN WHAT MUST BE bad news for Gary McKinnon's defence team a US court has dismissed Asperger's syndrome as a hacking defence and thrown the book at Albert Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, 28, made millions hacking into major US retailers. Before that he was acting as an informant for the US Secret Service and turned rogue on his employers.
However Gonzalez blamed the fact he stole millions of consumers' account details on his Asperger's syndrome and the fact he was addicted to the world wide web.
The court didn't think these were viable excuses and sentenced him to 20 years porridge, which breaks all records for harsh sentences imposed on hackers in US courts.
Under his plea agreement, Gonzalez had faced up to 25 years in prison, but asked the judge for leniency in sentencing, saying he had been addicted to computers since childhood, had abused alcohol and illegal drugs for years and suffered from symptoms of Asperger's disorder, a form of autism.
Gonzalez, who had buried $1 million cash in the backyard of his parents' home, said that his crimes got out of control "because of my inability to stop my pursuit of curiosity and addiction."
Prosecutors wanted a stiff sentence to send a message that the US government takes computer crimes seriously.
Gonzalez's prison term could be extended as another judge will sentence him today on a second set of similar charges, to which he has also pleaded guilty.
McKinnon claims that his cracking into US defence networks was due to his Asperger's syndrome and he is fighting extradition from Britain on that basis. µ
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