Top NASA Astronaut Accused of First Cybercrime in Space
NASA is investigating allegations that an astronaut accessed a bank account belonging to an estranged spouse while aboard the International Space Station.
A painful divorce
Anne McClain, whom NASA says is "one of NASA's top astronauts," allegedly executed the cybercrime earlier this year, according to KPRC in Houston. Summer Worden, McClain's estranged spouse, contacted her bank for details of the locations of logins to the account when she suspected McClain might have hacked her account.
Worden was shocked to find that one of the computers, where her login credentials were used from, was registered to NASA. The two women are in the process of a painful divorce.
Worden, who according to The New York Times is a former Air Force intelligence officer living in Kansas, said they are now fighting for custody of her 6-year-old son. He was a year old when she met McClain. The women got married back in 2014 but began having problems three years in the marriage.
“I protect my son with everything I have. That is my No. 1 priority, but I didn't sense at that time that she was anybody that I needed to protect him against. I trusted her,” said Worden.
McClain has confessed to accessing the account but has insisted she was just making sure there were sufficient funds in the account to care for their son. "She strenuously denies that she did anything improper," her lawyer Rusty Hardin stated.
The New York Times further confirmed that no funds had been moved from the bank account. However, Worden's family has filed a complaint with NASA.
According to Business Insider, "Worden's parents said in a separate complaint that McClain accessed the bank account as part of a "highly calculated and manipulated campaign" to obtain custody of Worden's son, who was born about a year before the couple got married."
If found guilty, space law dictates that any crime committed in space would be under the jurisdiction of the country of origin of the astronaut. This means McClain would face U.S. law.
For now, NASA seems to be standing by their astronaut. In a statement acquired by Space.com, NASA officials said "Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA's top astronauts. She did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station. Like with all NASA employees, NASA does not comment on personal or personnel matters."
Meanwhile, McClain posted a Twitter statement on August 24, saying: "There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process."
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