Government finally blocks extradition of Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon could still face a trial in the UK more than a decade after hacking US computers

Nicole Kobie
16 Oct 2012

The government have blocked Gary McKinnon's extradition to the US, more than a decade after he was caught hacking American government computers.

Gary McKinnon admits hacking into US government computers in 2002, but disputes the scale of damage caused. His mother, Janis Sharp, and legal team have fought his extradition to the US on the grounds of his mental health, saying his Asperger's syndrome could lead him to attempt suicide.

After examining his medical files, and seeking advice from clinical and legal experts, Home Secretary Theresa May today said McKinnon would not be extradited.

"Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes," she told parliament. "But there is also no doubt that he is seriously ill. He has Asperger's Syndrome, and suffers from depressive illness. The legal question before me is now whether the extent of that illness is sufficient to preclude extradition."

"After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights."

McKinnon still faces prosecution in the UK.

His lawyer Karen Todner said over Twitter: "Am delighted by Home Secretary's decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon. The right result after all these years."

Keeping promises

The news comes more then two years after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and prime minister David Cameron both called for McKinnon to be kept in the country.

While in opposition in 2009, Cameron said that McKinnon was "a vulnerable young man and I see no compassion in sending him thousands of miles away from his home and loved ones to face trial". However, that was followed by little action.

Sharp told The Telegraph that to go back on that promise would "seriously damage their reputations in terms of honesty and integrity".

McKinnon's MP, Tory David Burrowes, said he would quit his role as parliamentary private secretary to environment minister Owen Paterson if May refused to block the extradition, citing the "assurances" given before the election from both Cameron and Clegg. "I don’t want blood on my hands and also I hold firm to the promises we made, and want to follow through with those," he said, according to a report in The Guardian.

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