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McKinnon UK trial decision delayed

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A decision on whether or not to prosecute Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon in the UK may come later than expected.

As part of his fight against extradition to the US on hacking charges, McKinnon offered a signed confession to UK prosecutors through his lawyers in December. A UK prosecution would at least suspend, and possibly negate, long-running attempts to haul McKinnon over to the US.

McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, received confirmation from the office of the director of public prosecutions on 15 January informing her that the request to try McKinnon was under consideration and a decision should come through within four weeks.

Almost a month later there's still no word on a decision. We asked a Crown Prosecution Service media representatives when a ruling was likely, but are yet to hear back. We'll update this story as and when we hear more.

McKinnon has admitted computer hacking offences contrary to the UK's Computer Misuse Act, punishable by a maximum sentence of up to five years behind bars. The former sysadmin was recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, something that would act as a strong mitigating factor when it comes to sentencing in both the US and UK systems.

McKinnon and his supporters argue that if he faced US justice he might be tried under anti-terrorism legislation, and could face a prison sentence of up to 70 years' imprisonment.

However, during a failed House of Lords appeal against extradition a US sentence in the range of 8-10 years was cited, and this is probably a more reliable benchmark. McKinnon's diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome was only made after failed appeals to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights last summer.

McKinnon and his supporters have consistently sought a UK trial during a long-running campaign against extradition now entering its fourth year. Last month judges agreed to review the Home Secretary's decision to go ahead with extradition proceedings against the London-based Scot, despite his recent diagnosis. McKinnon's campaign has over recent months gained the support of autism experts, who argue he doesn't deserve a custodial sentence anywhere. ®

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