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Home secretary blocks hacker's extradition

27 October 2009

Home secretary Alan Johnson has blocked the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to the US, “to ensure that his article 3 human rights are being respected”.

Earlier this month, Lord Justice Stanley Burnton ruled in the High Court that extradition of McKinnon to the US would not involve treatment that breached his rights under article 3 (inhuman or degrading treatment).

The High Court also rejected McKinnon’s arguments that extradition would breach his article 8 rights to privacy (see 9 October 2009).

Mr Justice Wilkie agreed that the 43-year-old should not be given permission to apply for judicial review.

McKinnon, who claims the hundreds of millions of dollars in damage he is alleged to have caused to US military computers in the wake of 9/11 was the result of his search for evidence of UFOs, has been backed by a media campaign to prevent his extradition.

The home secretary said he needed to consider “very carefully” new medical evidence about McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and his mother says is suicidal.

As a result, Johnson said he had “stopped the clock ticking” in terms of the computer hacker’s appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR could order that the extradition be put on hold until it is able to hear the case.

The home secretary was responding to an oral question in Parliament from McKinnon’s MP, David Burrowes, shadow justice minister and Conservative member for Enfield Southgate.

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