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McKinnon family awaits final, final extradition decision

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Supporters of Gary McKinnon are anxiously awaiting a Cabinet Office decision on whether the coalition government will halt his extradition proceedings.

While in opposition, cabinet ministers (most notably Nick Clegg and Dominic Grieve, the new attorney general) supported the campaign against the extradition of the Asperger's sufferer to the US. McKinnon was first arrested by UK police in 2002 over attacks on US military systems back in 2001.

But extradition proceedings only began in 2005, after a controversial extradition treaty between the UK and US came into effect.

A judicial review - the latest in a long series of legal challenges in the case - was due to take place next week (May 25 and 26). The hearing before senior judges would have considered whether former Home Secretary Alan Johnson acted fairly in disregarding medical opinion of McKinnon's mental health in allowing extradition proceedings to continue.

However, in a significant development, McKinnon's lawyers have written to the court requesting the cancellation of this hearing pending a Cabinet Office ruling in the case, expected to arrive as soon as Thursday.

Gary's mum, Janis Sharp, told El Reg: "We're waiting to hear from the Cabinet Office and expect to hear something tomorrow.

"In the meantime Karen [Todner, McKinnon's solicitor] has written to cancel the court hearing which was due to take place on the 25 and 26 May, so I don't think that's going ahead now. We won't know for sure until we have a statement from the Cabinet Office tomorrow."

Last week Todner wrote to new Home Secretary, Theresa May, asking her to "intervene and prevent the extradition of McKinnon to the US".

In a statement on these lobbying efforts, Todner explained: "We hope the new Conservative Liberal government will act upon previous public statements that it would be unjust to extradite McKinnon."

It's not altogether clear whether a ruling on the case will arrive on Thursday or even which government department will handle it. A Cabinet Office spokesman referred our initial inquiries on the matter to the Home Office.

McKinnon admits hacking into unsecured US military systems in a search for evidence of supposed UFO encounters but denies claims that he caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage in the process.

His supporters have called on authorities to try McKinnon in the UK, if anywhere, during a long-running campaign that has steadily gained the support of a diverse alliance of politicians, musicians, actors and other public figures. ®

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