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An US astronaut accused of committing what may have been the first crime in space allegedly hacked into her estranged wife’s bank account while aboard the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this year.
Anne McClain, one of NASA’s top astronauts, accessed her wife’s bank account multiple times from a NASA computer while aboard the ISS in January and February during a six-month mission in space, according to a letter the wife’s attorneys wrote to the agency’s Office of Inspector General.
“I was shocked and appalled at the audacity by her to think that she could get away with that, and I was very disheartened that I couldn't keep anything private,” Summer Worden told local news outlet KPRC in Houston, Texas.
Ms McClain has denied any wrongdoing. Her attorneys have said she used an old password to log in, was never informed by Ms Warden not to access the account and simply wanted to ensure her family’s finances were in order.
“There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims," she said. "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 [Inspector General] process,” she added.
NASA has also released a statement celebrating Ms McClain’s accomplishments with the agency while declining to comment on personal and personnel matters.
“Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA’s top astronauts,” the statement read. “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."
Ms Worden, a reported former Air Force intelligence officer, filed an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Ms McClain and her parents later filed a complaint with NASA’s Inspector General in June, according to Houston news station KTRK.
She and her family have since spoken out after the alleged crime garnered national media attention, claiming Ms McClain had attempted to legally adopt Ms Worden’s six-year-old son and became increasingly demanding about visiting the child as their divorce carried on.
She said she decided to speak out after a judge awarded Ms McClain visitation rights earlier this month.
"At that point, I knew I had to come forward and tell my story because the momentum of the case was not going in the direction we were hoping it to go in accordance with the law and preserving my rights as a parent," Ms Worden said.
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Ms Worden’s mother also told the news outlet she thought her daughter was “almost held hostage” by Ms McClain, adding: “It seems like right now Anne controls our life.”
“We have to be home at 7 o'clock, three nights a week, so she can FaceTime with him,” she added about Ms McClain’s requests to see the six-year-old. “Well that's the time that we're eating dinner, just getting home from soccer practice, and then every other Saturday she gets to see him so that takes him away from us.”