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UK Supremes to deliver McKinnon hearing decision

Anxious wait for Pentagon hacker

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A decision on whether Gary McKinnon will be allowed leave to appeal to the newly-established UK Supreme Court will be given on Friday (9 October).

McKinnon's spirited four-year-long campaign against extradition to the US on hacking charges has featured failed appeals to the House of Lords and European Court of Human Rights last year. The well-supported campaign suffered a further setback in summer after two senior judges rejected judicial reviews into the handling of the case by the Crown Prosecution Service and Home Office.

Legal options in quashing the extradition order have narrowed down to a possible appeal to the UK Supreme Court.

Any hearing would consider the impact of McKinnon's diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome against the stress of a US trial and likely imprisonment. Earlier failed appeals focused on the alleged strong-arm tactics by US authorities during plea-bargaining negotiations.

News of the impending UK Supreme Court ruling was posted on Twitter by McKinnon's mum, Janis Sharp, on Thursday. "A Court decision will be given tomorrow as to whether Gary's case can go to the Supreme Court," she told El Reg.

McKinnon admits hacking into US military systems hunting for evidence of UFO encounters, but has consistently denied US estimates that his hacking exploits resulted in $700,000 in damages during his long fight against extradition.

A rainbow-coalition of supporters - including Dave Gilmour from Pink Floyd, Beirut hostage Terry Waite, the Daily Mail, and many UK politicians across the political divide - have backed calls to try McKinnon in the UK.

The campaign has focused attention on the one-sided nature of the extradition treaty between the UK and US. Under fast track extradition provisions in the treaty, the US has requested extradition without presenting any evidence of wrongdoing. By contrast, US courts require evidence of criminality in extradition applications.

A cross-party delegation of MPs failed to persuade Home Secretary Alan Johnson to intervene in the case. However, McKinnon's campaign gained a much needed boost on Wednesday when the opposition Conservative Party pledged to renegotiate the extradition treaty if elected next year.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice secretary, told the Tory party conference that "a Conservative government will rewrite" the extradition treaty, which was intended to be used against terrorist suspects and those accused of very serious crime.

"Can someone tell me how counter-terrorism will be served by extraditing Gary McKinnon to the United States for hacking into government computers in search of UFOs," Grieve said, the Daily Telegraph reports.

"Ministers say they can’t block his extradition. They can’t override the law. But we have proposed a change in that law, sitting in the House of Lords right now that would prevent the McKinnon case every happening again."

The Conservatives propose a change in the law that would require UK trial for a crime committed in Britain.

Janis Sharp spoke at a fringe meeting during the conference organised by the Autistic Society. "We are the only country in the world that will extradite our own people with no evidence whatsoever," she told conference delegates. ®

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