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McKinnon granted another judicial review

Is Pentagon hacker too ill for US trial?

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The High Court has granted a further judicial review of the Home Secretary's decision to allow extradition proceeding against Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon to proceed. The move means the imminent threat of extradition against McKinnon is removed until at least April.

The latest in a long line of appeals by McKinnon will consider whether McKinnon's mental state is too frail to withstand a US trial and likely imprisonment over hacking attacks dating from 2001 and 2002.

The unemployed former sys-admin, who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last year, was first arrested in 2002 and has been fighting extradition since 2005. His campaign against extradition has attracted a diverse range of high profile supporters including Terry Waite and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame, as well as the support of the Daily Mail and opposition Conservatives.

Senior judges have previously considered the implication of McKinnon's diagnosis of Asperger's on extradition proceedings, as well as a decision by UK prosecutors not to try the 43-year-old in the UK without coming down in favour of McKinnon. Alleged strong-arm tactics by US authorities in trying to strike a plea-bargaining agreement when McKinnon was first arrested were considered during an earlier appeal that went all the way up to the House of Lords.

McKinnon's lawyer Karen Todner welcomed the decision to allow a further appeal on different ground in a statement, issued on Wednesday. "I anticipate a hearing some time in April or May 2010," Todner said. "Clearly Gary will remain in the UK pending that judicial review."

Todner added that the good news of the further review is tempered by the "very poor" mental condition of McKinnon caused by the "ongoing pressure" of these proceedings.

Two online campaigns - a text message petition and the "Chicago" song download - were launched last week by McKinnon's supporters. UK supporters are urged to text GARY to 65000 to support a petition designed to demonstrate continued public opposition to McKinnon's extradition as explained in more depth on the Free Gary support blog here. ®

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