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McKinnon wins extradition delay

All hold pending UK prosecution decision

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Gary McKinnon has been granted a delay in his long-running fight against extradition to the US on hacking charges.

A judicial review of the Home Secretary's decision to ignore McKinnon's recent diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome in deciding to push ahead with his extradition was adjourned for a month, following a hearing on Tuesday morning. The hearing before two high court judges was effectively put on ice in order to allow the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to consider whether or not to bring a UK prosecution, in response to a signed confession by McKinnon submitted last month.

A decision by the DPP is expected within a month. In the meantime the oral hearing on the Home Secretary's decision has been put on hold.

McKinnon greeted news of the delay with delight. "It's brilliant news — they're delaying the whole thing until we've got the DPP's decision," McKinnon told Zdnet. "It's such a relief."

The former sys admins faces a seven-count US charge sheet holding him culpable for breaking into 97 US government, NASA and military systems in the course of a computer hacking spree that ran between 2001 and 2002. The London-based Scot admits rooting around insecure systems but denies causing any damage.

He describes himself as a bumbling amateur looking for evidence that US authorities had suppressed knowledge about advanced technologies harvested from crashed UFOs, while US authorities describe him as the perp of the biggest military hack ever recorded. McKinnon was first arrested in 2002 by UK police, but US attempts to extradite McKinnon only commenced in 2005. Since then McKinnon and his lawyers have consistently sought a UK trial for his admitted offences.

After legal defeats in appeals against extradition in the House of Lords and in Europe last year, McKinnon's prospects looked grim, and it seemed only a matter of time before he'd have to face a one-way trip across the Atlantic in the company of the US Marshals Service. Things are looking much more hopeful now, especially since a change in administration in the US - to say nothing of the passage of time - means that those most active in seeking McKinnon's extradition have probably moved on or changed jobs. Incoming Obama-era officials will have little stake in the case. ®

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