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McKinnon extradition review date set

Sting backs campaign to keep Englishman out of New York

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A judicial review on whether the Home Secretary was right to allow extradition proceedings against Gary McKinnon to continue despite his recent diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome has been scheduled for 9 and 10 June.

Only the Asperger's Syndrome aspects of the Home Office's handling of the case will be considered during the hearing. Other aspects of the case and the merits of the charges against McKinnon will be excluded.

A decision by judges that the Home Secretary was wrong to disregard McKinnon's recently diagnosed medical condition in allowing extradition proceedings to continue has become the former sysadmin's final chance to avoid a US trial for hacking into US government and military systems.

McKinnon lost appeals to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights last summer. These hearings focused on alleged arm-twisting during plea-bargaining negotiations and the conditions McKinnon might face in US jails post conviction. His medical condition was only diagnosed by autism experts in November, and wasn't part of the long running proceedings that led up to the House of Lords case.

The 43-year-old's fight against extradition suffered a further setback last month when UK prosecutors declined to commence a UK prosecution against McKinnon on the basis of a signed confession admitting computer hacking offences contrary to the UK's Computer Misuse Act.

McKinnon and his supporters have consistently sought a UK trial during a four-year campaign against extradition. McKinnon's campaign has taken off over recent months with the support of autism experts, who argue he doesn't deserve a custodial sentence anywhere, as well as support from politicians and celebs.

Eighty MPs signed an early day motion urging the Home Secretary to seek assurances that McKinnon, because of his health, would be allowed to spend any sentence in a UK prison, close to his family. London Mayor Boris Johnson and, more recently, Lord Carlile of Berriew, the terror-law watchdog, have also weighed in on McKinnon's behalf.

Entrepreneur Karl Watkin MBE and pop star Sting, the former frontman of the Police, also added their support over the weekend, The Free Gary support blog (which has been there from the start) says.

Ross Hemsworth, managing director of Glastonbury Radio and UK director of the International UFO Congress, tried to organise a concert on McKinnon's behalf back in November. Dusty old rock band Marillion have offered to take part in a gig.

Hemsworth also hoped to recruit musicians to take part in a charity recording of a song written by McKinnon, called Only a Fool, at London's famous Abbey Road studios. Not much came of either venture.

Other samples of McKinnon's musical work, such as the track Wanton Child (below), can be found on YouTube. ®

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