McKinnon Launches Fresh Bid To Halt Extradition

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Hacker Gary McKinnon is launching a fresh legal challenge to the decision to extradite him to the United States

British hacker Gary McKinnon has launched a fresh High Court challenge to halt his extradition to the US.

Papers have been lodged with the High Court, seeking a judicial review of home secretary Alan Johnson’s decision to allow his transfer, McKinnon’s solicitor, Karen Todner, told the BBC.

The home secretary has 14 days to respond before a judge considers it. The latest legal submissions are also thought to include an up to date medical report on McKinnon and two other reports (one British, one American) about the ability of the US prison service to deal with his condition.

This latest move is a new twist in a lengthy legal saga. Earlier this month Johnson was accused of being “spineless” in his decision to grant an extradition request by the American authorities. His mother also raised concerns that McKinnon would be a suicide risk after the decision.

McKinnon is facing up to 60 years in jail in the US after he was indicted in late 2002 for hacking into military computers between February 2001 and March 2002. 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.

In July 2006 the British government agreed that McKinnon, who has subsequently been diagnosed with the neurological disorder Asperger Syndrome, would be extradited to the United States. But McKinnon and his family launched a determined and lengthy legal battle to keep him in the UK. His campaign has even managed to enlist the support of a number of Members of Parliament (MPs) and celebrities such as Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and Sting.