16/10/2012 06:09 BST | Updated 15/12/2012 10:12 GMT

Gary McKinnon Extradition Verdict Due As Theresa May Decides His Fate

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon is "scared, anxious and hopeful" as he waits to find out whether Home Secretary Theresa May will stop his extradition to the United States.

His mother Janis Sharp described the ups and downs of his decade-long fight as so cruel they amounted to a "waterboarding of the mind",

The 46-year-old suffers from Asperger's syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism. He admits hacking into US military computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

Home Office medical evidence shows he is very likely to try to kill himself if extradited to the US, where if convicted he could face up to 60 years in prison. At this point the Home Secretary can only block extradition on human rights grounds.

gary mckinnon

Gary McKinnon is waiting with "anxiety, but hope" that Home Secretary Theresa May will halt his extradition

Ms Sharp said the US stance appeared to soften this summer, with government adviser John Arquilla saying the US should be recruiting elite computer hackers instead of prosecuting them.

But she admitted she was "still scared" ahead of the decision.

But she is hopeful that Mrs May will end her son's suffering by blocking his extradition to the US, where he is accused of "the biggest military computer hack of all time".

She told the BBC her son had lived a "zombified life" fighting the extradition and that the last ten years had "destroyed" her son.

"It's like waterboarding of the mind - you're elated, you're down, it's so cruel," Ms Sharp said, referring to the simulated drowning technique used by CIA interrogators on Guantanamo Bay terror suspects.


Theresa May is reported to be revealing a major change to extradition procedure on Tuesday

According to the Daily Mail, the Home Secretary is to reveal legislation on Tuesday to make it more likely British citizens are tried on home soil.

Her proposals include a "forum bar" which would introduce a court hearing prior to proposed extradition to decide where a person should stand trial.

Both Mr Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg have previously publicly condemned plans to send McKinnon to the US.

Ms Sharp said:"people like this would not use Gary's case as a key part of an election campaign and then leave him for two-and-a-half years and then throw him to the wolves," she added.

"It would seriously damage their reputations in terms of honesty and integrity.

"I will respect him (Mr Cameron) when I know Theresa May and David Cameron have the strength to say no."

More pressure was piled on Cameron after Conservative MP David Burrowes promised to quit if Theresa May agreed to extradite Gary.

Mr Burrowes is a Conservative ministerial aide to the environment secretary and Gary McKinnon's local MP

He will resign if the Home Secretary agrees to extradite a British computer hacker to America, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Prime Minister David Cameron has previously raised McKinnon's case with US president Barack Obama and called for a review. Ministers have thought to have agreed to a compromise, with McKinnon to be tried in the US but to serve any time in Britain.

Ms Sharp said for her son, "this is the most dreadful time ever.

"He just sits there. He's scared, he can't go out because people recognise him."

"He sits in the dark with his two cats," she said.

"I just hope that this is the end in a positive way and he gets time to recover."


McKinnon, from Wood Green, north London, was arrested in 2002, and then again in 2005, before an order for his extradition was made in July 2006 under the 2003 Extradition Act.

That triggered three successive applications for judicial review and questions about the fairness of the UK-US extradition treaty, which critics claim is "one-sided".

An independent review of the UK's extradition arrangements by Sir Scott Baker last year found the current treaty between the US and the UK was both balanced and fair.

But the government is under pressure to ignore its findings after MPs called on ministers to bring forward new laws and attempt to change the UK-US extradition treaty.

If Mrs May decides to allow extradition to go ahead, McKinnon's lawyers are expected to launch a last-ditch application for judicial review to challenge the decision.

A provisional hearing date has been set in the High Court for November 28 and 29.