14/12/2012 09:59 GMT | Updated 14/12/2012 12:02 GMT

Gary McKinnon 'To Face No Further Criminal Charges'

The mother of computer hacker Gary McKinnon laid down the gauntlet to president Barack Obama, challenging him to pardon her son, as it was announced he will face no further criminal charges in the UK.

Mr McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, who said the news on Friday was "amazing because it's my birthday", continued: "I feel fantastic, it's just wonderful. The next thing I would like to get, impossible though it seems, would be a pardon from President Obama.

"I think it's possible because I think Obama seems like a good person and so does his wife."

gary mckinnon

McKinnon was labelled as 'the biggest military computer hack of all time' by US prosecutors

"Gary was tearful because of the relief - he was so scared. It's going to be such a nice Christmas not to have everything hanging over us.

"It's good that the CPS have done this, but I'm surprised because the prosecutors could have given them evidence."

Ms Sharp said she hoped that the US authorities would now drop their extradition warrant for Mr McKinnon.

She told BBC News the case had been "life-destroying".

"Gary admitted to the intrusion, he always denied the damage," she said.

"I feel the 10 years have been gruelling, it's been life-destroying. It's difficult to explain how bad it's been.

"To have this over is amazing. Gary's gone through enough. Other people have been accused of more serious hacking in this country and they've been given a £1,000 fine and a very short community sentence.

"Gary regrets what he's done. He wishes he hadn't done it. He wishes he hadn't upset the Americans. We all regret it. But I'm grateful to Theresa May that this is all over now."

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Mr McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, was permitted to stay in the UK on human rights grounds in October.

Medical reports showed he was very likely to try to kill himself if extradited, despite being accused by US prosecutors of "the biggest military computer hack of all time."

McKinnon's lawyer Karen Todner said: "I have mixed feelings about this - I am pleased he is not going to be prosecuted because I wouldn't want to think he would ever spend any time in prison given his mental situation.

"But I am disappointed because the extradition warrant is still outstanding because he can't travel anywhere outside of the UK and will have this hanging over him until it's resolved.

"We have discussed approaching president Obama and asking for a pardon."

The 46-year-old computer hacker from Wood Green, north London, claims he was simply looking for evidence of UFOs.

He would have faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted in the US.


Janis Sharp, celebrating after Theresa May announced she would not allow extradition to the US

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said the decision not to charge Gary McKinnon was based on the fact that most of the witnesses and physical evidence was in the US.

He said the CPS and the police met US officials to discuss the possibility of bringing witnesses and evidence to England.

However the potential difficulties in bringing a case because of the passage of time, the logistics of transferring sensitive evidence and the participation of US government witnesses in the trial meant the "prospects of a conviction against Mr McKinnon which reflects the full extent of his alleged criminality are not high."

The joint statement by Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, and Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Mark Rowley added: "Against this background, the joint CPS/police panel recommended to the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that he should not commence a new criminal investigation into Mr McKinnon. The Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has accepted that advice."

Both prime minister David Cameron, who held talks on the case with president Barack Obama, and his deputy, Nick Clegg, previously condemned plans to send him to the US.

In an October statement, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Justice said: "The United States is disappointed by the UK home secretary's decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon, particularly given the past decisions of the UK courts and prior home secretaries that he should face trial in the United States.

"We note that the home secretary has described this case as exceptional and thus this decision does not set a precedent for future cases."

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.