Theresa May 'close' to decision in Gary McKinnon case


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The Independent Online

The computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who has spent ten years fighting extradition to America, will be asked to undergo a final psychiatric examination before the Home Secretary decides on his case.

High Court judges adjourned proceedings today awaiting a response after they were told that Theresa May was “close” to making a decision.

But the Home Secretary was said to be “personally concerned” that her department’s medical experts have not been able to carry out an examination to help her decide whether he would be at high risk of committing suicide if removed.

Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s, is wanted by US authorities because he hacked into military computers in the aftermath of the 11 September terror attacks. He admits hacking but insists he was only looking for evidence of UFOs.

The case was described by Hugo Keith QC, appearing for the Home Secretary, as “this rather vexed and perhaps totemic case” with important implications for Britain's extradition laws. The judges said the case should return to London's High Court later this month for a further hearing.

Mr McKinnon, who is from Wood Green in north London, is just one of the British citizens whose US extradition ordeal has caused controversy. Critics say that the treaty between Britain and America is unfairly weighted.

Retired businessman Chris Tappin was sent to the States in February this year to face charges of selling missile parts to Iran. Mr Tappin denies the charges, saying the batteries he shipped were for industrial use in the Netherlands.

And the Home Secretary is facing calls to meet with campaigners who want her to reverse her decision to extradite British student Richard O’Dwyer, who is facing allegations of copyright infringement. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is fronting the campaign and demanded a meeting with Ms May earlier today as it was revealed that more than 215,000 people have signed a petition supporting Mr O’Dwyer’s plea to stay in the UK.

The campaigning website is hosting the petition. Mr Wales, who splits his time between London and America and has also campaigned for internet freedom, said: “The Home Secretary continues to ignore hundreds of thousands of citizens, the UK tech community, business leaders, celebrities and MPs from all parties on this issue.

“She should be very clear that we are not going to go away and new supporters are joining the campaign all the time. I urge her to meet with myself and Richard’s mother, Julia, as soon as possible.”

Julia O’Dwyer, Richard’s mother, said: “I can’t believe that Theresa May has not had the good grace to respond to this campaign so far. I had hoped that as an elected representative in a country that holds values of freedom so dear, she would have made some sort of response. I could lose my son for 10 years to a US prison for something that isn't even a crime in the UK. I have been a taxpayer for my whole working life and now, when I need our government the most, they have totally failed me.”