Gary McKinnon extradition halted

By Ian Dunt

The extradition of hacker Gary McKinnon to the US has been halted while Alan Johnson examines new medical evidence.

The home secretary’s announcement to MPs that he would “stop the clock” on proceedings gives a dramatic last minute lifeline to those campaigning against Mr McKinnon’s extradition.

He was recently denied the right to appeal by the new supreme court.

“There are two issues upon which Gary McKinnon’s legal advisers have argued,” Mr Johnson said yesterday.

“The first is that the director of public prosecutions should have tried him in this country.

“The high court in July dismissed that, and wouldn’t allow it to go to judicial review.”

But on the second issue, Mr Johnson was more sympathetic.

“I have to ensure that his Article 3 human rights are being respected. It’s this new medical evidence that I will be looking at very carefully.”

Mr McKinnon suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism which family lawyers say could lead him to suicide if he is transferred to American courts.

Janis Sharp, Mr McKinnon’s mother, welcomed the move.

“The evidence is very powerful,” she told the Times.

“I’m really glad the home secretary has decided to look at it, because Gary’s health has already deteriorated so much. After eight years of constant stress, he is suicidal.

“We should not have a government that is so powerless it cannot stand up against America for the right of its own citizens.”

Mr McKinnon allegedly hacked into 97 computers just after September 11th, in a bid to discover conspiracy theories about UFOs.