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McKinnon loses extradition fight

European court clears injunction, washes hands of hacker case

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The European Court of Human Rights has refused to intervene in preventing the US extradition of accused Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon.

The ruling by the seven judge court, made Thursday, kills off McKinnon's last hope to avoid extradition to the US to face charges of hacking into US military and NASA systems, following the rejection of his appeal by the House of Lords last month.

McKinnon's lawyers appealed to the court on the grounds that his condition of detention if extradited and convicted in the US would be degrading. However, the court decided on Thursday not to allow the case to proceed, clearing an injunction that prevented McKinnon's extradition.

Karen Todner, of McKinnon's solicitors Kaim Todner, maintained the consistent line that McKinnon ought to be tried in the UK.

"The offences for which our client’s extradition is sought were committed on British soil, and we maintain that any prosecution of our client ought therefore to be carried out by the appropriate British authorities," she said.

"Our client now faces the prospect of prosecution and imprisonment thousands of miles away from his family in a country in which he has never set foot."

McKinnon was diagnosed as suffering from Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism characterised by obsessive interests often accompanied by poor social skills. Todner plans to write to the Home Secretary pointing out his medical condition as a reason McKinnon ought to be prosecuted in the UK. It's doubtful whether Jackie Smith will intervene, and McKinnon's fate now seems sealed.

The unemployed former sysadmin is accused of hacking into 97 US government and military systems between 2001 and 2002. US authorities described the hack as the biggest military attack ever, whereas McKinnon has consistently described himself as a bumbling amateur looking for evidence about UFOs.

McKinnon was first arrested by UK police in 2002. Extradition proceedings didn't commence until 2005, since when McKinnon's legal team have kept up a campaign arguing he ought to be tried in the UK. ®

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