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Nasa hacker to wait longer for prosecution decision

The Crown Prosecution Service has said that self-confessed Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon will have to wait to find out whether he will be prosecuted in the UK.Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer is currently considering whether to prosecute McKinnon in the UK.

The Crown Prosecution Service has said that self-confessed Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon will have to wait to find out whether he will be prosecuted in the UK.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer is currently considering whether to prosecute McKinnon in the UK. A UK prosecution would mean that McKinnon would avoid extradition to the US, to face charges of what US prosecutors have styled "the biggest military hack of all time".

Four weeks ago the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Starmer should make a decision "within four weeks". However, a CPS spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Monday that the DPP had yet to reach a conclusion.

"It's still in review," said the spokesperson. "We'd hoped [the decision] would be in a certain time-frame."

McKinnon, who last August was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a condition on the autistic spectrum, faces up to seventy years in a "super max" maximum security jail if extradited to the US. He has never denied hacking the systems, but does deny causing extensive damage, as the US authorities allege.

The Home Office has repeatedly turned down McKinnon's appeals against extradition. While different arms of the UK government -- in this case the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service -- do not usually contradict each other over legal decisions concerning third parties, McKinnon's solicitor Karen Todner has told ZDNet UK that McKinnon's Asperger's diagnosis has not been taken into account by a UK law court or by the Home Office, which may be recognised by the DPP.

Added to the mix is the non-reciprocal nature of the current extradition agreement that the UK has with the US. US prosecutors do not currently need to provide any prima facie evidence with regard to UK suspects to secure an extradition -- in effect the US can snap its fingers, and the UK authorities will roll on their backs like good dogs and hand over UK citizens without the US having provided legal proof of any wrong-doing. This does not work the other way round, and is never likely to, as it would violate US citizens' constitutional rights.

The CPS spokesperson denied that the politically sensitive nature of the case had any bearing on the DPP's decision taking longer than expected.

"Cases require careful consideration," said the spokesperson. "It takes as long as it does."