Home Office wants new McKinnon suicide evaluation

Home Office wants new McKinnon suicide evaluation

Summary: Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon's legal team is in the process of discussing a fresh psychiatric evaluation for McKinnon with the Home Office.The Home Office wrote to McKinnon's legal team at the beginning of November to request a new evaluation, to assess how likely McKinnon was to commit suicide if extradited, McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, told ZDNet UK on Thursday.

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Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon's legal team is in the process of discussing a fresh psychiatric evaluation for McKinnon with the Home Office.

The Home Office wrote to McKinnon's legal team at the beginning of November to request a new evaluation, to assess how likely McKinnon was to commit suicide if extradited, McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, told ZDNet UK on Thursday.

"The Home Office wants [McKinnon] to be independently assessed, and we are discussing who would be the right person to do that," Todner said. "Various suggestions have gone back and forth, but it's important that whoever assesses him has expertise in Asperger's."

McKinnon was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum, in 2008. He stands accused by the US of hacking military networks in 2001 and 2002, including Nasa and the Pentagon. McKinnon was identified as being at risk of suicide if extradited to the US by independent Cambridge University autism expert professor Simon Baron Cohen in 2009.

Todner said on Thursday that McKinnon's mental state at the moment was "not great". "He's finding it very difficult at the moment," Todner said.

The Home Office told ZDNet UK that home secretary Theresa May has taken advice from chief medical officer Michael McBride to have McKinnon assessed again.

On 9 November the Home Office wrote to McKinnon's legal team notifying it of May's intention to instruct a consultant forensic psychiatrist and a consultant psychiatrist in behavioural disorders to examine McKinnon, subject to his consent, and then to provide her with a report, according to the government department.

Before coming to power in the coalition, the Conservative Party expressed support for McKinnon. In July 2009 David Cameron called for McKinnon to be tried in the UK.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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