He is accused of hacking crimes that are similar to those of Gary McKinnon, and yet the so-called ‘Cisco hacker', Philip Gabriel Pettersson, is unlikely to be extradited to the US to face his accusers. Why?

McKinnon, of course, has been fighting his extradition to the US to face charges over alleged hacking of US military and other systems in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks on New York. We've pointed out before how unbalanced these charges are in relation to the crime of penetrating atrociously-secured systems, and why he could more fairly and effectively be sent for trial under UK law.

Fearful of backing down now late in the day, the US authorities insist on having their day in court with McKinnon even though many of them must now wonder whether it has been worth the effort.

Interesting , then, that Pettersson is accused of hacking incursions not that dissimilar to McKinnon's, including breaking into networking giant Cisco to steal IOS code, and accessing various NASA servers.

McKinnon was also accused of deleting data from NASA and other military servers, but the lack of an extradition request in Pettersson's case is still striking.

The fact that Pettersson (who protests his innocence) is getting more lenient treatment has little to do with the seriousness of their alleged crimes, but the fact that the US knows that Swedish courts would be unlikely to grant extradition in the way the UK has, meekly, with McKinnon.

That's despite the fact that the two countries have had a criminal extradition agreement for a quarter of a century. Even asking and being refused on the basis of legal uncertainty poses a risk the US authorities would be unlikely to take.

McKinnon was foolish and deserves punishment, but it is hard to escape the possibility that his main crime was one of timing. Hacking US government property from a foreign country in the aftermath of 9/11 was always an incredibly bad idea with a knee-jerk administration in the White House.