Lawyer: Home Office unlikely to U-turn on hacker

A change of home secretary is not likely to alter the government's position on Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon's extradition to the US, according to McKinnon's solicitor
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Lawyers for Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon are expecting no quarter from the UK government in McKinnon's continuing extradition battle.

The replacement of Jacqui Smith as home secretary by Alan Johnson is unlikely to alter the government position on McKinnon's extradition, according to McKinnon's solicitor Karen Todner.

"I don't think it will make much difference, unless the new home secretary has a personal interest in the case," Todner told ZDNet UK on Friday. "I'm not convinced Smith ever personally looked at the case — all of the responses [to McKinnon's appeals against extradition] were written by a lawyer."

On Friday the Home Office said it would not reconsider its position McKinnon before the outcome of McKinnon's supreme court hearing this week.

"The case is before the courts, and we don't propose to comment further pending the outcome of the court's decision," a Home Office spokeswoman told ZDNet UK on Friday. "It wouldn't be something for the [new] home secretary to get involved in."

McKinnon has been involved in a long-running legal battle against extradition to the US to faces charges of hacking military and Nasa networks. Over the course of the seven-year battle, McKinnon has made appeals to two home secretaries for the extradition proceedings to be dropped, and on both occasions the appeal was turned down. .


The 40-year-old self-confessed hacker, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, an autism-spectrum disorder, faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in a US jail. On Tuesday, the High Court will consider whether his condition has been taken into account by any UK legal entities, including the Home Office, the British courts and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Todner said she was hoping the High Court judicial review would prevent McKinnon's extradition and secure a trial for him in the UK.

McKinnon has garnered support from a wide range of people and organisations, including pop stars and politicians. Guitarist Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd contributed backing vocals to a song to raise awareness of McKinnon's situation, while bass player Sting and his wife Trudie Styler sent a hamper to McKinnon's family in March to show their support.

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