Hacker Gary McKinnon has been granted a High Court review of the Home Secretary’s decision not to block his extradition to the US
A High Court judge has agreed to review the Home Secretary’s decision to extradite British hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States. The judicial review will examine Alan Johnson’s conclusion that a US trial would not breach McKinnon’s human rights.
McKinnon is facing up to 60 years in jail in the US after he hacked into 97 military and NASA systems in a bid to find secret information about aliens and UFOs. The US alleged his hacking caused it to shut down critical systems and networks in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and caused damages of approximately £435,000.
McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, lost his High Court appeal against extradition in July, but in October the Home Secretary decided to delay the extradition while he examined new medical evidence. “I have to ensure that his Article 3 human rights are being respected,” Johnson said at the time.
However, in November Johnson said the information he had been provided with in the case of McKinnon was not “materially different” from that placed before the High Court earlier in the year, and therefore he could not contradict the ruling.
His decision was met with a barrage of complaints from MPs and members of the public. “How ill and vulnerable does Gary McKinnon need to be, to not be extradited to the US? How can it be proportionate to allow extradition of a UK citizen who is suicidal and sectionable,” said McKinnon’s Conservative MP David Burrowes in December. “Far from you saying you are powerless to stop Gary McKinnon’s extradition, in the light of this medical evidence, you have shown yourself and your government to be spineless.”
McKinnon’s soliciter Karen Todner has welcomed the decision to allow a further appeal. “I anticipate a hearing some time in April or May 2010,” Todner said. “Clearly Gary will remain in the UK pending that judicial review.” The Home Office said it had “noted” the court’s decision.
McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp – who has been a vocal presence throughout the trial process – said she felt “incredible, indescribable” relief. “This judge has made such an honourable and decent decision,” she told the BBC. “We’ve fought for so long for compassion and understanding. Gary’s health has badly declined, it’s been traumatic to see.”