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Pentagon hacker McKinnon earns extradition delay

European Court of Human Rights hangs fire

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Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon has been granted a short reprieve from possible extradition to the US while a European court decides whether or not to intervene.

Law lords rejected McKinnon's appeal against extradition last month, leaving the European Court of Human Rights as his final avenue of appeal. McKinnon's solicitors Kaim Todner have lodged an appeal to the European court arguing that strong arm tactics used by US authorities during plea bargaining negotiations and concerns that McKinnon may be subject to a military tribunal constitute a violation of his human rights.

In a brief statement, Kaim Todner said the court had granted McKinnon "interim relief" against extradition until 28 August, in order for his application to considered before the full chamber of presidents of the European Court of Human Rights. David Dinkeldein, a solicitor at Kaim Todner, explained that the injunction prevents McKinnon's extradition until at least 28 August. The case will be considered on the basis of written papers, and no hearing has been scheduled.

The 42-year-old faces a US indictment alleging he hacked into 97 US government and military systems between 2001 and 2002, causing damage that left the network of the Naval Weapons Station Earle, New Jersey, offline for a week. McKinnon admits gaining unauthorised access but denies causing any damage. He describes himself as an amateur hunting for anything showing that the US was suppressing evidence of UFOs, rather than a hostile hacker.

If extradited to the US and convicted on all charges McKinnon faces a maximum sentence of up to 60 years behind bars, though somewhere in the region of between eight to ten years is more likely. ®

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