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Gary McKinnon To Face No UK Charges But Fight With US Isn’t Over

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

CPS says if McKinnon is to go on trial, it should be in the US

Gary McKinnon is close to ending his nightmare decade as UK officials said he will not face any charges in this country, although his battle with the US has not come to a definitive conclusion.

In October, home secretary Theresa May confirmed she would not sign off the extradition of McKinnon to the US. She said it was up to UK authorities to decide if he would face charges in England and Wales.

Today, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had met with the Metropolitan Police and decided that McKinnon, who was accused in 2002 of hacking into US military networks, should not face charges in the UK.

Gary McKinnon battles on

However, the extradition warrant from the US is still outstanding, meaning Americans still want his case to be heard across the Atlantic. The CPS said that if Gary McKinnon were to go on trial, it should happen in the US, as it had agreed in 2002.

It has spoken with US officials and had even indicated “they would be willing to co-operate with a prosecution in England and Wales if that would serve the interest of justice”, the CPS said. But they could not agree a deal to bring all the necessary witnesses and evidence over to these shores for a trial.

“They do not consider that making all the US witnesses available for trial in London and transferring all of the US material to this jurisdiction would be in the interests of justice,” the CPS said.

“Against this background, the joint CPS/police panel recommended to the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that he should not commence a new criminal investigation into Mr McKinnon.

“The assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has accepted that advice.”

Concerned about the US’ desire to have a case heard, McKinnon’s lawyers said they would “seek to explore other ways in which Mr McKinnon can receive complete closure on this long saga”.

The McKinnon story stretches back to 2001, when he allegedly gained access to 97 US government computers, including ones belonging to NASA.

McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, said he was looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

The CPS decision comes just weeks after the conclusion of TVShack founder Richard O’Dwyer’s case. He was wanted in the US to face copyright charges, but has now paid a fine of £20,000 and seen his woes come to an official end.

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