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Home Secretary rejects McKinnon anti-extradition plea

Game over for Pentagon hacker?

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The Home Secretary has rejected a request to rip up an extradition order against accused Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon.

McKinnon was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and solicitors for the Briton wrote to Jacqui Smith saying his medical condition ought to mean he should face criminal prosecution over his admitted hacking activities in the UK rather than the US. The 42 year-old London-based Scot faces seven charges of hacking into 97 US government, NASA and military systems during 2001 and 2002. He has described the acts as an attempt to unearth proof that the US military was suppressing evidence that it had acquired advanced technology from UFOs.

US prosecutors have been seeking his extradition for mounting the "biggest military hack of all time" since 2005 while the former sysadmin has run a high-profile campaign to avoid extradition. McKinnon's appeals against extradition were taken all the way through the British legal system to the House of Lords, where arguments were rejected that US authorities overstepped the mark in plea bargaining negotiations. The European Court of Human Rights declined to get involved, leaving a plea to the Home Secretary on medical grounds as McKinnon's main hope of avoiding a one-way trans-Atlantic trip with the US Marshalls' Service.

A brace of protests by McKinnon's supporters outside the Home Office and one outside the US Embassy have failed to achieve the required effect after Jacqui Smith declined to intervene, in a decision relayed to McKinnon's lawyers on Monday. Worse still, she failed to do anything to ensure McKinnon's early repatriation to the UK to serve the remainder of any sentence the US court might eventually impose.

In a statement, Karen Todner, McKinnon's solicitor, explained: "This afternoon [Monday], the Secretary of State has advised via the Treasury Solicitors, that despite Mr McKinnon's diagnosis with Aspergers she will now be making arrangements for his extradition pursuant to her order for Extradition of 4 July 2006. She has failed to make any request for repatriation to the UK when other countries make similar requests on behalf of their citizens.

"We are now considering whether or not Mr McKinnon has a further judicial remedy and we are urgently investigating this issue," she added. ®

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