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Judges probe minister's role in McKinnon extradition saga

Pentagon hacker's medical files ignored

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The long-running case of Gary McKinnon returns to court on Friday.

The Royal Courts of Justice will review government ministers' handling of the extradition case rather than considering whether or not McKinnon ought to face trial in the US, in spite of his well-publicised medical problems. McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, has been fighting extradition for nine years.

Janis Sharp, McKinnon's mum, told El Reg that the hearing on Friday is likely to focus on whether former Home Secretary Alan Johnson erred in disregarding medical evidence that McKinnon was a potential suicide risk if extradited. Judges will be considering only the action of politicians and not hearing arguments on the extradition request itself, Sharp explained.

"The hearing is about the outstanding judicial review against Alan Johnson and about what's happening with [Home Secretary] Theresa May re-Gary and I'm not sure what else.

"Last year the court wanted the JR [judicial review] to go ahead but both Karen [Todner] (Gary's solicitor) and the Home Office wanted it put on hold for a time," she added.

Home Secretary Theresa May is still considering medical evidence that warns McKinnon is unfit to face the stress of a US extradition, trial and likely imprisonment. The campaign to secure a UK trial for McKinnon has attracted celebrity and political support over the years as well as leading to a national debate on extradition arrangements between the US and UK, which critics argue are one sided and unfair.

McKinnon, 45, admits hacking Pentagon and NASA computers in 2001 and 2002 in the hunt for a supposed cover-up by the US military of encounters with UFOs and harvested alien technology. He maintains that he broke into poorly secured networks using off-the-shelf hacking tools and denies causing any damage, contrary to US claims otherwise. ®

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