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Home Office to decide on Gary McKinnon hacking extradition next month

If NASA hacker's extradition is approved, the case will go to High Court in November

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The Home Office will decide by 16 October whether to block the extradition to the US of Gary McKinnon, who has admitted to hacking into US government computers, McKinnon's attorney said yesterday.

McKinnon, 46, of north London, was indicted in 2002 for hacking into 97 military and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002.

McKinnon's extradition, though approved by the British government in 2006, has been delayed by years of court reviews and legal maneuvering. His case stirred controversy over the fairness of the extradition treaty between the US and UK, although a legal review completed last October found it was not slanted against British defendants.

In 2010, Home Secretary Theresa May adjourned a judicial review of McKinnon's case that had been due to take place in the High Court. Since then, the UK government has been conducting an inquiry into McKinnon's medical record. He suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disorder related to autism characterized by deficiencies in social interaction, as well as depression.

If his extradition is approved the case will proceed to the UK High Court, which has scheduled hearings for Nov. 28 and 29, according to Karen Todner, McKinnon's lawyer.

McKinnon has admitted to hacking the computers but asked that his prosecution be conducted in the UK The Crown Prosecution Service has declined to prosecute, contending the US wants jurisdiction and that most of the evidence is held by the US

McKinnon, who went by the name "Solo," contends he was merely searching for proof that UFOs exist and that he didn't harm the systems he is accused of hacking. He used a programme called "RemotelyAnywhere," a remote access tool, to access computers, many of which were protected by only default passwords.

The US military alleges that McKinnon deleted critical files from its computers, causing up to US$800,000 in damages, and hampered its efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.



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