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UK mulls extension of McKinnon judicial review period

Refusal to step in branded 'spineless'

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Alan Johnson said he may grant Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon extra time to apply for judicial review of his US extradition case, but the home secretary insisted he was powerless to stop the forced transfer.

"As I have said at every stage of these proceedings, we will not commence extradition proceedings until all legal avenues Mr. McKinnon wants to pursue have been exhausted," Jonson told the House of Commons during a debate Tuesday.

He said he was considering an appeal by McKinnon's lawyers to extend the seven-day period they have to apply for judicial review. Johnson also said he's received assurances from US authorities that McKinnon's health needs will be met.

McKinnon suffers from Asperger's syndrome and his supporters say the 43-year-old is suicidal. They have repeatedly argued that the anti-terrorism treaty US officials have invoked in extradition requests is being abused. On Tuesday they renewed their criticism of Johnson for his continued insistence that the matter is out of his hands.

"Far from you saying you are powerless to stop Gary McKinnon's extradition, in the light of this medical evidence, you have shown yourself and your government to be spineless," McKinnon's MP, Tory David Burrowes, said during a debate.

Supporters have also cited doctors who say McKinnon is likely to kill himself if sent abroad for trial. More here and here. ®

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