Obama: McKinnon decision with Britain

Obama: McKinnon decision with Britain

Summary: The decision whether or not to extradite Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon to the US rests with the British legal system, US president Barack Obama has said.Obama, who was on a state visit to the UK, said on Wednesday that the US would not push for McKinnon's extradition while the legal process was ongoing.

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The decision whether or not to extradite Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon to the US rests with the British legal system, US president Barack Obama has said.

Obama, who was on a state visit to the UK, said on Wednesday that the US would not push for McKinnon's extradition while the legal process was ongoing.

"We have proceeded through all the processes required under our extradition agreements," Obama told reporters at a press conference in London. "It is now in the hands of the British legal system. We have confidence in the British legal system coming to a just conclusion. And so we await resolution, and we'll be respectful of that process."

McKinnon, who has admitted accessing unsecured US military networks in 2001 and 2002, has Asperger's syndrome. He has been diagnosed as being at risk of suicide if extradited.

UK prime minister David Cameron, who was at the press conference, expressed sympathy for McKinnon, and said that the decision whether to extradite was being considered by home secretary Theresa May.

"I understand the widespread concern about this case, and it's not so much about the alleged offence, which everyone knows is a very serious offence," said Cameron. "It's about the issue of the individual, and the way they are treated, and the operation of the legal system, and as the president said, making sure that legal system operates properly and carefully.

"The case is currently in front of the home secretary, who has to consider reports about Gary's health, and his wellbeing, and it's right that she does that in a proper and effectively quasi-judicial way," said Cameron. "I totally understand the anguish of his mother and his family about this issue. We must follow the proper processes and make sure this case is dealt with in the proper way. And I'm sure that that is the case."

McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that she was hopeful for a resolution.

"I think it's very positive that Obama has said it's a UK decision," said Sharp. "We're hoping to hear some good news for Gary soon."

McKinnon is currently in legal limbo while his defence team and the Home Office negotiate a fresh psychiatric evaluation of his state. The two sides have been negotiating since November 2010.

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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