Hacker Gary McKinnon Returns To High Court As Judges Try To Hasten Extradition Case


First Posted: 27/01/2012 10:33 Updated: 27/01/2012 10:33   PA

The High Court expressed concern today over the length of time it is taking the long-running case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to come back to court.

Two judges attempted to speed matters up by listing it for a hearing in July.

They acted after hearing that the Home Secretary is "considering afresh" whether Asperger's sufferer McKinnon should be extradited to the US to face trial for hacking into top secret US military computers in 2002.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for McKinnon, told the judges it was hoped Theresa May would now block US government extradition moves so there would be no more need for court action.

The evidence of medical experts before her showed McKinnon, 45, was "suffering from a serious mental disorder and there is a serious risk of suicide if extradited".

Fitzgerald said of the marathon case: "We hope it will never come back to court."

Just before Christmas, McKinnon mother Janis Sharp called for her son to be tried in Britain and said attempts to remove him to America had "destroyed" his life.

She said he was facing his 10th Christmas since his arrest and suffering severe depression amid predictions that he could receive a sentence of 60 years for hacking into top secret US military computers in 2002.

American officials have demanded that he is tried in the US despite expert opinions obtained by McKinnon's legal team warning that his mental condition could lead him to commit suicide.

The 45-year-old Asperger's sufferer, from Wood Green, north London, admits the crimes but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs when he hacked into 97 Nasa and Pentagon computers from his flat.

Sharp and lawyers for the US government had filed more evidence that will be considered today by Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Cranston, sitting in London.

Sharp said in her latest media interviews: "Our argument is to try Gary here and to be given a proportional sentence."

Another argument is that his removal should be delayed until his current treatment programme for his medical condition is completed.

In December a Commons debate was granted by the backbench business committee to Tory Dominic Raab, who called for ministers to "inject a dose of common sense into the blunt extradition regime".

Raab said: "Gary McKinnon should not be treated like some gangland mobster or al Qaida mastermind."

Arrested in June 2005, an order for extradition was made against him in July 2006 at the request of the US government under the 2003 Extradition Act.

The move has triggered three successive applications for judicial review which have made headlines over the years and called into question the fairness of extradition laws, in particular the UK-US extradition treaty, which critics have condemned as "one-sided" in favour of the Americans.

The latest legal challenge to the 2006 extradition order was launched early in 2010 but adjourned for a new Home Secretary to investigate the issues in the case.

Following disputes over evidence between the parties, the delays continued until arrangements were made for the case to return to court today so that the judges can assess what should happen next.

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Filed by Michael Rundle  |  Report Corrections