NASA hacker McKinnon to hear extradition fate tomorrow

Summary:After a 10-year legal battle, home secretary Theresa May will reveal whether the UK will send Gary McKinnon to the US to face court charges over hacking NASA and military computers.

NASA hacker Gary McKinnon will learn on Tuesday whether his 10-year legal fight to avoid extradition to the US has been successful.

Home secretary Theresa May will reveal her decision to parliament on Tuesday afternoon, McKinnon's solicitor Karen Todner confirmed in a post to Twitter on Sunday.

gary-mckinnon-sm-espiner
NASA hacker Gary McKinnon will hear the UK government's decision on his extradition on Tuesday. Image: Tom Espiner

The US began its extradition efforts against the London resident in 2005, on charges that he had caused $700,000 in damage by hacking into NASA and US military systems. In 2002, McKinnon admitted breaking into the systems, but said he was looking for evidence of UFOs and that his aims were not malicious.

Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mother, welcomed the news but stressed her fears about the reaction of McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, if he is sent to the US.

"My terror is that Gary would not last five minutes away from home," Sharp told the BBC.

Efforts to keep McKinnon in the UK got a boost on Friday, after Home Office-commissioned medical advisers produced a new report into his health. Two experts, Declan Murphy and Tom Fahy, said the extradition carries a "significant risk of suicidal behaviour" for McKinnon, according to reports. The assessment is a change of tune for the experts, who in July described the risk as "moderate".

McKinnon's health concerns and the long-running legal battle have prompted calls from British politicians for the overhaul of the extradition treaty between the US and the UK. The 46-year-old's fight has seen him appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and be turned down for a hearing in the British Supreme Court.

Before the general election in 2010, the Liberal Democrats vowed to halt McKinnon's removal to the US, and the Conservatives said he should be tried in the UK. However, the coalition government has so far not made any moves toward this, though prime minister David Cameron has raised the question of imbalance in the extradition treaty with President Obama .

"We hope that our elected government will uphold the promises they made whilst in opposition and will prevent Mr McKinnon's extradition to America," Todner said in a statement.

Topics: Security, EU, Legal, Nasa / Space, United Kingdom

About

Karen Friar is news editor for ZDNet in the UK, based in London. She has been in journalism since the last century, starting out in film journalism in San Francisco, before making the switch to tech coverage at ZDNet.com. Next came a move to CNET News.com, where she looked after west coast coverage of business technology, specialising in... Full Bio

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.