Home Secretary ends 10-year battle, saying extradition of self-confessed hacker would be incompatible with his human rights
Gary McKinnon has won his 10-year battle against being extradited to the United States to face trial for computer hacking.
Blocking the application from the US, Home Secretary Theresa May said there was no doubt that McKinnon was "seriously ill" and there were genuine concerns he would commit suicide, so to extradite him would be "incompatible" with the 46-year-old's human rights.
It will now be up to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, to decide if McKinnon, who admitted hacking into the Nasa and US military computer systems, will face charges in the UK.
May said: "After careful consideration, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would be incompatible with his human rights."
McKinnon is accused of hacking into 97 United States military and Nasa computers over a 13-month period between February 2001 and March 2002. He was first arrested in 2002, and again in 2005.
At the time, McKinnon claimed he was only looking for proof of a cover-up concerning UFOs and evidence that free energy sources were being suppressed by certain groups.
However, the US authorities claimed he had deleted critical files from operating systems, in what they said was the "biggest military computer hack of all time."
A warrant for his extradition to the US was issued in 2006 under the 2003 Extradition Act. McKinnon could have faced up to 60 years in jail for hacking into computers. He was diagnosed with Asperger's, a high functioning form of autism, in 2008.
May told the House of Commons today that: "Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes 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.
"I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon. It will now be for the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether Mr McKinnon has a case to answer in a UK court."
There has been no comment from US officials at the time of going to press but today's decision by May could offer a glimmer of hope for another British man the US wants to drag through its courts.
The US wants to extradite the 19-year-old student to face charges of allegedly infringing copyright through his website TV Shack. If found guilty he could face up to 10 years in a US jail.
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