Most readers of Mysterious Universe will, I am sure, be well aware of the strange and seemingly never-ending affair of Gary McKinnon, the British man who faces potential extradition to the United States - and possibly significant prison time - for hacking NASA in search of secret UFO data. Although the McKinnon affair has generated copious amounts of interest and debate within the media - and even at the highest levels of the British Government, too - few realize that McKinnon was not the first to embark upon such a hazardous path.
As an experienced hacker of numerous computer systems, including those of NASA and the United States’ Department of Defense, a young Welshman named Matthew Bevan took the decision back in 1994 to uncover the long-rumored "crashed UFO" secrets of Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. Stressing that Wright-Patterson was “a very, very easy computer system to get into,” Bevan was utterly amazed to uncover astonishing information relating to a super secret project to design and build a truly extraordinary flying machine of UFO like proportions.
“The files,” Bevan said, "very clearly referred to a working prototype of an anti-gravity vehicle that utilized a heavy element to power it. This wasn’t a normal aircraft; it was very small, split level, with a reactor at the bottom and room for the crew at the top.”
Having accessed and carefully digested the fantastic information, Bevan duly exited the Wright-Patterson computer banks and began to doggedly search just about here, there and everywhere for the alien answers that he sought, including the less than secure computer systems of NASA itself. Bevan had got into the systems, he had carefully read the files, and he had then made good his escape, all without any form of detection whatsoever.
Or, so Bevan had assumed was the case. History, however, has shown that Bevan’s initial assumptions were very wide of the mark. For approximately two years there was nothing but overwhelming silence. Then, on a particular morning in 1996, everything suddenly changed drastically in the life of Matthew Bevan. At the time when things began to go distinctly awry, he was working for an insurance company in Cardiff, Wales, and on the day in question he was summoned down to the managing director’s office.
On entering the room, Bevan was confronted by a group of men in suits who seemed to practically ooze intimidation. Bevan recalled what happened next: “One of the men outstretched his hand and I shook it."
"Matthew Bevan?" the man asked.
"Yes," replied Bevan.
The man identified himself as being with Scotland Yard’s Computer Crimes Unit: "I’m placing you under arrest for hacking NASA and Wright Patterson Air Force Base.’" Bevan was in deep trouble. On being taken to Cardiff Central Police Station, the line of questioning became decidedly curious and worthy of an episode of The X-Files: “What does the term Hangar 18 mean to you?” Bevan was immediately asked, in stern and intimidating tones.
“That’s a hoarding place for alien technology,” he replied, in a quite matter of fact fashion.
Bevan’s recollections of that exchange were more than eye-opening. “Throughout the interview, they kept coming back to Hangar 18: Did I see anything on the Wright Patterson and the NASA computers? Did I download anything? Well, when they asked me if I saw anything, I said: ‘Yes, I saw emails talking about an anti-gravity propulsion system.'"
Needless to say, this did not go down too well, at all, with Scotland Yard’s Computer Crimes Unit. Bevan correctly realized that he was in very hot water with the authorities, and a date was subsequently set for a hearing at London’s Bow Street magistrate’s court. But: it was not just Bevan, his defense, and the prosecution who were present at the trial. There was also a man present representing the interests of the U.S. Government and NASA.
A curious exchange occurred when the man took the stand – as Bevan remembered only too well. “As the hearing continued, the prosecution asked him what the American Government thought about my motives regarding my hacking at NASA and at Wright Patterson."
The man replied: "We now believe that Mr. Bevan had no malicious intentions and that his primary purpose was to uncover information on UFOs and Hangar 18.'"
Bevan said: “Well, everyone had a bit of a laugh at that point, even the judge; however, when the prosecution asked: ‘Can you confirm if Hangar 18 exists or if it’s a myth?’ the man said: ‘I can neither confirm nor deny as I’m not in possession of that information.'"
The final outcome of the affair was that the case against Bevan completely collapsed.
The magistrate overseeing the matter stated in no uncertain terms that a jail sentence was utterly out of the question, and that any financial punishment he might be able to impose upon Bevan would be meager in the extreme. Coupled with the fact that neither NASA nor the American Government as a whole was willing to divulge any and all information concerning the contents of the material on the Wright Patterson computers to the British court, and the cost of prosecuting the case was perceived as being as high as $10,000 a day, the prosecution grudgingly elected to offer zero evidence.
Bevan was, much to his deep satisfaction, a free man. And: he was a very lucky man, too.
The total failure to secure a successful conviction – even a minor one - in the Bevan affair both frustrated and angered NASA and the U.S. Government. And the very fact that American authorities flatly refused to reveal to the British court the precise nature and content of the files and the data that Bevan had hacked into, made it all but inevitable that the judge would have no choice but to completely dismiss the case.
The U.S. Government, however, was most definitely not prepared to make that same fatal mistake again when Gary McKinnon hacked into certain NASA computer systems in search of UFO data in the early 2000s– as both history and the still-ongoing saga has graphically demonstrated.