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Home sec puts McKinnon extradition on hold

Johnson punches clock

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The Home Office has agreed to a delay in extradition proceedings for Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon while Home Secretary Alan Johnson and government lawyers reconsider evidence in the case.

Washington has been demanding McKinnon go on trial in the US for breaking into Pentagon computer systems back in 2002. He has never denied tapping into US military systems, saying he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

McKinnon, 42, was refused leave to appeal to the UK's newly minted supreme court earlier this month, with judges ruling his extradition was lawful and proportionate.

At that time he had 14 days to make any further representations to the European Court of Human Rights, though his options were extremely limited.

However, according to reports, the Home Office has set aside that deadline to consider evidence, with an apparent focus on the medical side of the case. McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, and there have suggestions he could take his own life if extradited.

If Johnson decides to let the extradition proceed, the clock will start again.

Successive Home Secretaries have refused to halt the case, saying they have no power to intervene. ®

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