Nasa hacker McKinnon's extradition halted for review

Nasa hacker McKinnon's extradition halted for review

Summary: Home secretary Theresa May has paused the legal proceedings surrounding Gary McKinnon's extradition so she can consider the issues in the case

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New home secretary Theresa May has paused Gary McKinnon's extradition proceedings so she can fully consider the issues in his case.

May has applied for a judicial review hearing, scheduled for Tuesday next week, to be adjourned, the Home Office said on Thursday. The hearing had been arranged to consider whether May's predecessor, Alan Johnson, was right in law to allow the Nasa hacker's extradition to go ahead despite fresh evidence of McKinnon's worsening psychiatric condition.

"The Home Secretary has considered the proposal from Gary McKinnon's legal team and has agreed an adjournment should be sought," the Home Office said. "An application to the court is being made today."

McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, said in a Thursday statement that May "wishes to have appropriate time... to consider the issues in the case".

"I hope this may be a signal of a more compassionate and caring home secretary and one that is willing to defend the rights of our citizens," Todner said. "I will be lodging further representations shortly. In the meantime Gary will remain in the UK."

Johnson was the last in a string of Labour home secretaries to reject pleas from McKinnon's supporters to halt the extradition. Indicted by the US Justice Department in 2002 for hacking into US military systems, McKinnon faces up to 70 years in a maximum security federal prison if convicted in that country.

McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger syndrome, a condition on the autistic spectrum, has always admitted the hacks, but claims to have been looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life. He denies having caused the levels of damage — $700,000 (£485,000) — alleged by the US authorities.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who now govern in coalition, have expressed doubts about the extradition, and the Lib Dems have explicitly called for the extradition to be stopped.

The government also said on Thursday that it would "review the operation of the Extradition Act — and the US/UK extradition treaty — to make sure it is even-handed". A major criticism of the proposed McKinnon extradition is that the US can demand the UK send over criminal suspects without just cause, but there is no reciprocity in the deal.

ZDNet UK asked the Home Office on Thursday whether May's decision to pause McKinnon's extradition proceedings had anything to do with this planned review, but had received no answer at the time of writing.

Topics: Government UK, Security

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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8 comments
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  • I trust, assuming that the extradition gets cancelled, that McKinnon will not simply walk free. He has, after all, admitted much of what he has been accused of. The only question here is should he face a UK court instead of a US one?
    davey5
  • Consider this... Does it make any sense that sensitive military installations should have their equipment connected and open to the internet so that they can be hacked? No, I do not think so!

    Unfortunately the Americans obviously lack the imagination (even after making the 'Wargames' movie showing how flawed this approach is) that would allow the equipment to use the internet ONLY when their intranet failed. They should be thanking Mr Mckinnon for exposing their flaw and thankful that he is not more malicious or a terrorist!

    Thank goodness we now have a Government with some moral fibre and a backbone, not only halting his extradition but also ready to end this disgraceful treaty!
    Frankly Amazed
  • what a petty gang them at the top.....were for art thou GOD
    anonymous
  • When we see how criminals and terrorists can openly escape and flout deportation through using legal loopholes or simply running and hiding, it is good to see that the government have finally done something to stop this silly circus.
    This guy is clearly not a malicious hacker, simply over enthusiastic in his hunt for information, and as for the claims of nearly half a million pounds worth of damage to computer systems...really???..... unbelievable.

    This action by the US, and the statements by the prosecutor ("you're gonna fry") just show how plain ridiculous this is. I hope the new government have the balls to stand up and say 'enough'. Let this guy get his life back, I hope he gets the opportunity (and has the desire) to write about this episode in his life and benefit from it after years of being pushed around and being hung out to dry by the old government.

    Good luck Gary, hope this is finally sorted.
    Kepi-0e8dd
  • You Brits are unbelievable "and the statements by the prosecutor ("you're gonna fry") just show how plain ridiculous this is." Really like his comments about 911 were not ridiculous.

    "They should be thanking Mr Mckinnon for exposing their flaw and thankful that he is not more malicious or a terrorist!" So I should go up and down your street looking for an unlocked door, when I find one I should just go in that house and have a seat and leave post it notes saying I was there? That would be ok with you? You should thank me for finding a unlocked door? He did not just stumble onto the Militaries network he used scripts to find computers which were not locked down.

    "I trust, assuming that the extradition gets cancelled, that McKinnon will not simply walk free. He has, after all, admitted much of what he has been accused of. The only question here is should he face a UK court instead of a US one?" HE will be set free, The UK courts refuse to charge him even with the computer misuse crime (misdemeanour), that is why the US is trying to extradite him, make him pay for his crimes on US property.

    First this then BP poisioning the US Gulf Coast, does the UK have it in for the US? US is starting to think so.
    NoThomas-49dfa
  • First this then BP poisioning the US Gulf Coast, does the UK have it in for the US? US is starting to think so.

    Just a little karma for all the British troops killed in friendly fire from the US Army.
    SomeGuy-9f486
  • @SomeGuy
    Well, where to start...
    McKinnock is a nutter. You expect nutters to do and say stupid things. There was a time when even barely civilised societies recognised this and would cut these people some slack. The prosecutor is (presumably) a level-headed stable person in full control of his behaviour. I find it disturbing that such a person in authority makes the comments he has.

    If you read through these comments you will see that posters criticise both American and British governments. Indeed I would suggest we criticise our own government more. Do you really believe that a treaty that allows one country to snatch a person from another without providing any vestige of a case is reasonable? How about when the reverse situation is NOT ratified? I have a friend in Texas. He finds this situation as baffling as I do. I would remind you that we are critising Goverment's here, NOT individual people of any particular nationality.

    My front door does not provide entry to material of national importance. I would have expected it to have correspondingly less security. From what I read, it would seem not to be the case. However, my door has a spring lock. On rare occasions this doesn't click in properly, and yes, I have in the past found a note on the mat saying 'Sorry, door opened when I knocked.' I didn't try to track down the 'perp', nor did I make ridiculous claims about damage to my property. I accepted that I goofed, was thankful no damage was done and resolved to be more careful in future.

    BP. Yes I see what you've done here. Taken a totally unrelated issue and tried deflect attention. Sorry you failed. If you want to discuss this, please set up a separate thread. As this is an IT forum I would hope there is some such angle you would like to talk about.
    Tezzer-5cae2
  • Sorry. Previous comment was supposed to be in answer to NoThomas, not SomeGuy. Yep. I goofed again. Oh the humanity :)
    Tezzer-5cae2