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McKinnon family 'devastated' by Home Sec's latest knock-back

Options running out for 'suicidal' Pentagon hacker

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Solicitors for Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon are planning a 11th-hour judicial review after Home Secretary Alan Johnson decided new medical evidence was insufficient reason for him to step in and block US extradition proceedings.

McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp told the BBC she was "devastated" by the ruling.

"Gary has been in heightened terror for almost eight years… to do this to someone who has Asperger's syndrome... and suicidal is wrong," she said.

McKinnon's legal options have narrowed to an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights - which needs to take place within two weeks - or a judicial review on Johnson's handling of the case which needs to be lodged within seven days. The self-confessed hacker's family remain hopeful despite the failure of earlier judicial reviews of the Home Office and UK prosecutor's handling of the case that each considered McKinnon's diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome last year.

"Gary's solicitor said there's still hope. [It's] a devastating blow but [we're] not giving up and will judicial review. We normally have three months but [have] been given seven days," Sharp said via Twitter.

"It seems Government are trying to extradite Gary/do the US bidding before Christmas rather than allowing the usual time a JR takes," she added.

Supporters of Gary criticised the Home Secretary for "ignoring medical evidence" and "washing his hands" of the McKinnon extradition case.

Last month Johnson agreed to "stop the clock" on extradition proceedings while he considered new medical evidence. He wrote to McKinnon's family on Thursday saying that he could not block McKinnon's extradition on medical grounds.

The medical report by NHS consultant psychiatrist Professor Jeremy Turk warned that the 43-year-old has a "fixed-psychological conviction he will kill himself in preference to being extradited", the Daily Mail reports.

Johnson nonetheless ruled that allowing extradition proceedings to proceed would not violate McKinnon's human rights in his letter to Sharp, which the Daily Mail reproduces in its story.

Johnson's decision runs contrary to the findings of the Commons' Home Affairs Committee that McKinnon's extradition ought to be halted because of his "precarious state of mental health". The MPs also criticised the lopsided US-UK extradition treaty that means US authorities are not obliged to present any evidence when seeking the extradition of a British citizen. ®

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