UK resident Gary McKinnon has lost his legal challenge against
extradition to the US to face charges of hacking NASA and military
McKinnon had applied to the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR) for it to hear an appeal against his extradition. Under
'Rule 39', citizens can make an emergency application to halt
extradition proceedings if they believe their human rights will be
McKinnon's legal team on Thursday in the UK sent out a statement saying
his application had been denied. "Today the European Court of
Human Rights ruled against Mr McKinnon's application for Rule 39
Interim Relief," the lawyers said on the statement.
Two weeks ago, McKinnon's legal team submitted his application
to the ECHR. Under the terms of the application, the UK government
could not extradite McKinnon. This legal block has now been
"The temporary prohibition of our client's extradition as
granted by the ECHR on 12 August is now effectively lifted and the
authorities of the United Kingdom are now free to extradite our
client to the United States," the legal team said in the
Karen Todner, McKinnon's solicitor, told ZDNet.com.au sister site ZDNet.co.uk on
Thursday in the UK that McKinnon had run out of legal-challenge options. "In
terms of legal challenges and court proceedings, we've gone as far
as we can," Todner said.
However, Gary McKinnon has recently been diagnosed with
Asperger's Syndrome. Todner said she had written to home secretary
Jacqui Smith asking that McKinnon be tried in the UK on medical
"We've written to the Secretary of State asking her to
reconsider and keep [McKinnon] in the country," said Todner.
"We've asked for two weeks to put the medical evidence before
Should that request be turned down by the Home Secretary,
McKinnon could be extradited within two weeks. Todner said that it
normally took 10 days to sort out the flights. McKinnon would not
be taken into custody; instead, Todner said that normally, the
police contact the solicitor asking that the accused surrender to a
police station a couple of hours before take-off.
Should McKinnon be found guilty of the charges laid against him,
he faces up to 60 years in a US jail. McKinnon has admitted hacking
into the US systems, but has always maintained he was searching for
UFOs. "His family are distraught," Todner said.
Todner added that the alleged offences were committed on British
soil, and that the prosecution should be carried out by the UK
authorities. "Our client now faces the prospect of prosecution and
imprisonment thousands of miles away from his family in a country
in which he has never set foot," she said.