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The mother and attorney for Gary McKinnon voiced optimism about the prospects of blocking the accused NASA hacker's extradition to the US after President Barack Obama said he would respect the UK legal process.

“We have proceeded through all the processes required under our extradition agreements,” Obama said during a press conference in London, according to the BBC. “It's now in the hands of the British legal system. We have confidence in the British legal system coming to a just conclusion, and so we will await resolution and we will be respectful of that process.”

The comments appeared to contrast with a recent statement from US Attorney General Eric Holder in which he vowed to take all steps necessary to have McKinnon extradited and “held accountable for the crimes that he committed.”

McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, described the president's comments as “very positive.” She has been at the center of a campaign to keep her son from being forcibly transferred to the US on the grounds that he suffers from a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome.

The hacker's lawyer, Karen Todner, went on to say: “Bearing in mind we do have this special relationship, the fact Mr. Obama has come out and said he would respect the English judicial system is wonderful.”

McKinnon, 45, faces a maximum of 60 years imprisonment for hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers in 2001 and 2002. He has admitted accessing the networks in search of evidence of UFOs.

McKinnon's fate is in the hands of Home Secretary Theresa May. A Home Office spokeswoman said that extradition at this stage in the process can be blocked only if May decides that it would breach McKinnon's human rights.

It's not yet known when the Home Secretary will make her decision. ®

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