Disabled ‘hacker’ launches two new bids to avoid extradition to US


Alleged Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon has launched two new legal bids to avoid being extradited to the United States, where he faces a possible prison sentence of 60 years in a maximum security prison.
McKinnon, from north London, who was only diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in August 2008, faces a trial for allegedly hacking into US defense department computer systems.
Because of the late diagnosis, a judicial review in June was the first time his impairment had been considered by a court.
His legal team argued that extradition would have a severe effect on his mental health and that he should be tried in the UK instead.
Home Office lawyers have argued that extradition would be justified because of the serious charges he faces.
But while they wait for a decision on the first judicial review, McKinnon’s legal team are also due in court in July to apply for a second judicial review.
This would challenge the decision not to have him prosecuted in the UK under the Computer Misuse Act.
His supporters believe this would give him a chance of a fairer trial than in the US, and, if found guilty, a fairer prison sentence, to be served in the UK.
The National Autistic Society (NAS), which has campaigned against his extradition, appealed to supporters to contact their MPs in a bid to exert pressure on the new home secretary, Alan Johnson.
An NAS petition on the prime minister’s website, that called on him to protect McKinnon and other people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome from extradition, secured more than 4,300 signatures.
The charity believes McKinnon will be too far from the support network of friends and family he needs if he is extradited and imprisoned.
Janis Sharp, McKinnon’s mother, said: “Since his diagnosis with Asperger’s syndrome last year, the NAS has backed our pleas that his extradition should be reconsidered in the light of his condition.
“We desperately hope that the government listens to all those who have lent their support and realises what we all know: that to extradite Gary to the USA would be disproportionate, wrong and potentially life-threatening.”

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