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Gary McKinnon is hoping to avoid U.S. prosecution for hacking by approaching the new coalition government

May 18, 2010, 12:10 PM —  IDG News Service — 

Britain’s new government is giving fresh consideration to a hacker’s plea to postpone an upcoming court hearing in a long-running bid to avoid a U.S. trial that could send him to prison for decades.

The U.K.’s Home Office, which oversees criminal justice affairs, is reviewing a letter from lawyers for Gary McKinnon, who was charged in the U.S. in 2002 for breaking into military and government computers.

McKinnon is scheduled for a judicial review hearing in the High Court on May 25 and 26 on the basis of his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological disorder related to autism characterized by deficiencies in social interaction.

Theresa May, the new home secretary from the Conservative party, is expected to issue a response “as soon as possible,” according to a Home Office spokesman.

“The Home Secretary has received a letter from Gary McKinnon’s legal team asking her to agree to an adjournment of the Judicial Review in light of further representations,” according to a Home Office statement.

McKinnon’s case has risen in profile over the last couple of years, with celebrities, along with politicians, voicing their support for him.

The recent change in government could help his cause. Some members of the U.K.’s new coalition government have been highly critical of the circumstances of McKinnon’s case.

Last year, David Cameron — now Britain’s prime minister — criticized the extradition treaty McKinnon was subject to. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat’s leader who is deputy prime minister, said last year he opposed extraditing McKinnon given his medical condition.

The U.K. government approved McKinnon’s extradition in 2006, but his lawyers undertook a series of court maneuvers that have kept him from being extradited.

McKinnon had asked to be prosecuted in the U.K., but the request was denied on the basis that U.S. authorities wanted jurisdiction over the case and because most of the witnesses are in the U.S.

McKinnon was indicted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2002 for hacking into 97 military and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002. He could face up to 60 years in prison.

McKinnon has remained free in the U.K. but isn’t allowed to use a computer. He has publicly admitted to hacking the computers using a program called “RemotelyAnywhere,” a remote access tool.

McKinnon has said that many of the computer systems still had their default passwords — considered a poor security practice — and that other passwords were easy to obtain.

McKinnon, who went by the name “Solo,” contends he was merely searching for proof of the existence UFOs and didn’t harm the systems. The U.S. military contends that McKinnon deleted critical files from its computers, which hampered its efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Source:  http://www.itworld.com/legal/108187/new-british-government-considers-mckinnons-appeal

Theresa May halts Gary McKinnon’s legal battle against extradition to America

Gary McKinnon has received a double boost in his five year battle against being extradited to America to face computer hacking charges.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
Published: 3:19PM BST 20 May 2010

The Home Office said on Thursday that Home Secretary Theresa May had decided to halt the legal process so she could re-examine impact of extradition on Mr McKinnon’s health.

The coalition Government also confirmed in its formal agreement it would conduct a comprehensive review of the controversial extradition treaty under which Mr McKinnon was set to be extradited.

Mr McKinnon, 44, who suffers from a form of autism, is challenging a US bid to extradite him on charges of hacking into highly sensitive military computers eight years ago.

He had been on the verge of being extradited earlier this year after the-then Home Secretary Alan Johnson ruled he should go, despite evidence that he was suicidal.

However, the move was postponed after a judge found that it was “arguable” that extraditing him could violate his human rights.

The Home Office said Mrs May would re-examine the medical evidence for herself to decide whether Mr McKinnon should be extradited.

A spokesman said: “The Home Secretary has considered the proposal from Gary McKinnon’s legal team and has agreed an adjournment should be sought. An application to the court is being made today.”

An adjournment was granted on the case late on Thursday by a judge in the High Court who has asked for an update by the end of July.

Karen Todner, Mr McKinnon’s solicitor, said Mrs May wanted to have “appropriate time” to consider the issues after receiving a request from Mrs Todner.

She said: “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.”

Janis Sharp, Gary McKinnon’s mother, said: “We are grateful that the new Home Secretary has agreed to reconsider Gary’s case and we await Mrs May’s decision with great hope that Gary may still have a future.

“Gary is still terrified and undergoing a state of ongoing heightened stress but today’s news gives us hope, at last, that his ordeal may soon be over.

“We need it to be over and totally believe that the new coalition will keep their promises and allow Gary to be tried in his own country.”

Isabella Sankey, a spokesman from campaign group Liberty which has been campaigning for Mr McKinnon, said she welcomed the decision for a “pause for thought” in Mr McKinnon’s extradition battle.

She said: “We hope this might lead to a new approach to extradition that combines international cooperation with justice and compassion.

“This is yet another early test for the coalition parties to honour in government what they promised in opposition.”

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have previously spoken out in concern for Gary, and now is their opportunity to take action.

“We heard with relief that Theresa May has agreed to put legal proceedings on hold in order to reconsider Gary’s case once more, and wait in hope that she will be in the position to make the decision Gary and his family so desperately need to hear.”

Last year Mr Johnson had refused to halt McKinnon’s removal, saying he was “of the firm view” that extradition would not be incompatible with his human rights, and “extradition to the United States must proceed forthwith”.

Mr McKinnon was accused in 2002 of using his home computer to hack into 97 American military and Nasa computers, causing damage that the US government claims will cost more than $700,000 dollars (£425,000) to repair.

He admits breaching the systems but denies causing damage and claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs. If he is found guilty he faces spending years

Separately the Government said in its coalition agreement that it would review the workings of the 2003 Extradition treaty. It said: “We will review the operation of the Extradition Act – and the US/UK extradition treaty – to make sure it is even-handed.”

Before the election, the Tories had said they wanted to renegotiate the treaty amid claims it was “one-sided” while the Liberal Democrats – including deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – said extraditing Mr McKinnon would be a “travesty of justice”.

A source close to Mr Clegg said today: “Nick has always taken a keen interest in the case but this was a decision by the Home Secretary.”

Critics have long claimed the treaty made it easier for US authorities to extradite Britons to America. Others have complained that it has been used by American authorities to target white collar criminals.

The controversial case has now been considered by six home secretaries.

Source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7745624/Theresa-May-halts-Gary-McKinnons-legal-battle-against-extradition-to-America.html


Previous Updates

Gary McKinnon Updates: US Prosecution Of McKinnon ‘Spiteful’, Says Ex-Top-Cop

Tuesday, 11 May 2010 8:40 P GMT
 No reason why Pentagon hacker can’t be tried in UK By John Leyden • Get more from this author Posted in Policing, 10th May 2010 09:04 GMT The senior former policeman in charge of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit squad which first

McKinnon’s Mum Fights For Civil Liberties In Parliamentary Run(Includes Outcome Update)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 10:01 P GMT
A day in a life on a campaign trail By John LeydenPosted in Government, 3rd May 2010 08:02 GMTInterview Janis Sharp, mother of accused Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon, is upbeat about her run for Parliament despite acknowledging she has little cha

Gary McKinnon Updates: Janis Sharp To Battle Straw

Tuesday, 13 April 2010 5:31 P GMT
 Janis Sharp PRESS ASSOCIATION The mother of accused computer hacker Gary McKinnon is to stand against Justice Secretary Jack Straw at the General Election. Janis Sharp blames Mr Straw, who was Foreign Secretary when Britain’s current extrad

Gary McKinnon Updates: New Court Date In Extradition Marathon

Tuesday, 23 February 2010 2:46 P GMT
 Ian GrantMonday 22 February 2010 03:33 Self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon will return to court in May to hear whether the home secretary was right to allow his extradition to the US to face charges of hacking US federal and military comp

Gary McKinnon Updates: Charlie Mckinnon On His Son’s Fight Against US Extradition

Tuesday, 9 February 2010 7:02 P GMT
  Feb 7 2010 Lesley Roberts, Sunday Mail CHARLIE McKINNON should have left his scaffolding job by now and be enjoying a quiet retirement. Instead, the building site worker is at the centre of a major international incident, fi

Gary McKinnon Updates: Death Threats

Friday, 22 January 2010 4:40 P GMT
  UFO hacker Gary McKinnon gets death threats Exclusive report by Chris Richards, Rep

Gary McKinnon Updates: Pentagon Hacker Wins Delay Of Extradition To U.S.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010 1:42 A GMT
 January 13, 2010. A Briton who hacked into NASA and Pentagon computers has won the right to challenge the government’s decision to refuse to block his extradition to the United States, his lawyers said on Wednesday. Skip related contentGary

Gary McKinnon Updates: New Hope on Extradition

Tuesday, 1 December 2009 2:02 P GMT
 Hacker gets new hope on extraditionTuesday, Dec 1  2009 Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said he is considering granting computer hacker Gary McKinnon extra time to apply for a judicial review of his case. Skip related contentMr McKinn

Gary McKinnon Updates: Gary McKinnon’s Mother In Tears After Snub From Alan Johnson

Wednesday, 11 November 2009 1:33 A GMT
  The mother of Gary McKinnon, the internet hacker fighting extradition to the United States, broke down in tears yesterday after Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, allegedly refused to talk to her. By Rosa Prince, Political Correspond

Gary McKinnon Updates: Computer Hacker Gary McKinnon Loses Fight To Stand Trial In UK

Wednesday, 7 October 2009 3:36 P GMT
Janis Sharp will talk about her son Gary McKinnon’s ongoing extradition case. 07 October 2009 05:00 AM The mother of Scottish computer hacker Gary McKinnon

GaryMcKinnon Updates: Verdict on Extradition to be Announced This Week

Tuesday, 15 September 2009 9:58 P GMT
UFO hacker Gary McKinnon to learn of Supreme Court appeal 14 September 2009 Self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon, who gained unauthorised access to multiple Pentagon computer systems, will learn this week whether an application for an

Gary McKinnon Updates: Protestors Challenge McKinnon Extradition/American Civil Liberties Union Attacks David Miliband over UK/US Extradition Treaty

Thursday, 27 August 2009 9:05 P GMT
 By Jon Ashford Skip related contentProtestors against Gary McKinnon’s extradition demonstrated in Grosvenor Square today, just metres from the US embassy.Among the attendees at the demonstration, organised by civil liberties campaigners Lib

Updates(Includes New Petition): Gary McKinnon Loses Appeal Against Extradition To The U.S.

Friday, 31 July 2009 10:39 A GMT
  By Michael Seamark and James Slack Last updated at 10:59 AM on 31st July 2009British computer expert Gary McKinnon today lost his latest High Court bid to avoid extradition to America where he faces trial for hacking into U.S. military networ

Updates: Gary McKinnon’s Impending Extradition Must Be Stopped/No Pity From US

Sunday, 26 July 2009 9:45 P GMT
David Burrowes MP, Sunday, July 26 2009 This last month has been an unusual one since it has involved a constituent’s case receiving national prominence and has led to Parliamentary calls for a review of both an Act of Parliament and a Treaty.

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