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McKinnon lawyers vow to take fight to US Supremes

NASA hacker loses judicial review

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Lawyers for Gary McKinnon have launched an impassioned attack on the UK justice system, following a decision to allow extradition proceedings against the Pentagon hacker to continue despite his recent diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie dismissed McKinnon's claims for judicial review on Friday ruling that extradition was "a lawful and proportionate response to his offending".

The ruling follows review hearings by the judges on whether successive Home Secretaries acted properly in disregarding McKinnon's recent diagnosis with a mild form of autism in allowing extradition proceedings to continue and, separately, the decision not to prosecute McKinnon in the UK, despite his offer of a signed confession to hacking offences in the UK.

Karen Todner of Kaim Todner, McKinnon's solicitors, reacted with disappointment to the decision but vowed to fight on.

"The extradition treaty was brought in to facilitate the extradition of terrorists and it must be clear to anyone following the case that Gary McKinnon is no terrorist," she said.

"The decision to extradite Gary was made by a Secretary of State, Jacqui Smith, who accepts she was not up to the job. David Blunkett, who led us into the flawed Extradition Act now wishes he had not and that Gary was prosecuted in the UK."

Todner fears for McKinnon's mental health if he is extradited to face trial and likely imprisonment in the US.

"Why aren't they stopping the extradition of a man who is clearly vulnerable and who on accepted evidence suffers from Asperger's? Gary is clearly someone who is not equipped to deal with the American penal system and there is clear evidence he will suffer a mental breakdown if extradited."

McKinnon's four-year campaign against extradition has featured failed appeals to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights that focused on issues such as arm-twisting during early plea bargaining negotiations. His diagnosis with a mild form of autism opened up fresh avenues of appeal.

The decision by two senior judges on Friday that health grounds were insufficient to block McKinnon's extradition is a severe and perhaps fatal blow to McKinnon's long-running campaign.

The Ex-Files

McKinnon was first arrested in 2002. He has never denied accusations that he hacked into 97 computer systems run by US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA. McKinnon has repeatedly said he only broke into poorly secured systems to hunt for supposed evidence of knowledge about anti-gravity propulsion systems and alien technology harvested from crashed UFOs that was being hidden from the public by the US military.

US prosecutors allege that McKinnon (whose hacker handle was Solo) caused $700K in damages and was responsible for crippling systems responsible for the tracking the location of naval ships months after the 9/11 attacks. McKinnon denies these claims of causing damage, repeatedly describing himself as a "bumbling computer nerd" rather than a cyberterrorist.

US appeal

Lawyers for the former sys admin turned UFO military hacker are continuing to fight against his extradition despite Friday's setback. Todner added that she had sent an appeal - signed by a cross-bench group of 40 MPs - asking for US President Barack Obama to intervene.

"In the NatWest Three case the Attorney General flew to America to obtain assurances of bail from them - no such action has taken place for Gary, nor has he been promised repatriation immediately upon sentence," she said.

"I will lodge an appeal against this decision in the next 28 days and, if we can, will take the case to the Supreme Court if needs be, back to Europe. Ian Norris [one of the NatWest Three] has obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on judicial grounds and we hope to join that appeal."

McKinnon's fight against extradition has been accompanied by an energetic media campaign, drawing in autisim experts and high-profile celebrities such as Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, as well as politicians and the media. The Daily Mail recently began a high profile campaign that further publicised McKinnon's plight and the perceived injustice of the one-sided extradition treaty between the US and UK.

An opposition motion calling for a review of this extradition treaty was defeated in Parliament earlier this month.

During the debate Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, argued he had no power to block McKinnon's extradition.

Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mother, who has spearheaded the campaign, told reporters outside court that she feared she would never see her son again if he is extradited. ®

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