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McKinnon faces final appeal against extradition

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Accused US military hacker Gary McKinnon faces a legal hearing on Tuesday afternoon key to his long-running campaign to avoid extradition to the US on hacking charges.

Two judges will review a decision by UK prosecutors not to prosecute McKinnon in the UK during a hearing that's expected to last two days. The same appeal court judges - Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie - also conducted a hearing to evaluate whether former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith acted properly in allowing extradition proceedings against McKinnon to proceed despite his recent diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome.

Meanwhile the Conservatives are planning to devote an opposition day at Westminster on Wednesday to a debate on McKinnon's fight against extradition, the Daily Mail reports.

McKinnon's four year campaign against extradition included failed appeals to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights last summer, before it emerged that he suffered from a mild form of autism. His fate now rests with two senior judges, who will consider whether McKinnon's medical problems are serious enough to justify placing a legal block on extradition.

The run-up to the hearing has seen campaigning stepped up by McKinnon's growing band of supporters.

McKinnon's family and friends have been joined by backers including Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, London mayor Boris Johnson and former Beirut hostage Terry Waite. More recently the Daily Mail launched a high-profile campaign supporting McKinnon's fight against being hauled over to face trial in the US, where he is likely to receive a far longer sentence than if he were allowed to remain in the UK.

Those sympathetic to McKinnon's plight are invited to download a cover version of the Vietnam-era protest song Chicago, featuring the talents of David Gilmour, Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde and McKinnon himself. Donations (from 1p up) will go to autism charities, not towards funding McKinnon's legal fight. ®

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