Gary McKinnon extradition decision due by mid-October

 

The Home Secretary is proposing to decide in mid-October whether to order computer hacker Gary McKinnon's extradition to the US, the High Court was told today.

But McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp made an emotional appeal outside court for Theresa May "to show a little bit of compassion" and make an earlier decision.

Her son's life and that of his family was being "destroyed" by the case and "Gary cannot cope any more", said Mrs Sharp.

One of the reasons given for the delay is the Olympics and Mrs May's crucial role, especially on security.

But Mrs Sharp said: "She could have made a decision before the Olympics. The evidence is there that Gary is unfit for trial and a considerable suicide risk. We need this decision. This delay is wrong - morally wrong."

The announcement of the mid-October date follows the 46-year-old's refusal last week to undergo further medical tests by a Home Office-appointed expert during his battle to avoid removal.

The US authorities want McKinnon, from Wood Green, north London, to face trial for hacking into military computers 10 years ago. He could face a jail sentence of up to 60 years if convicted.

The proposed timing for the Home Secretary's decision was given to London's High Court by Hugo Keith QC, representing Mrs May.

If she decides to allow extradition to go ahead, McKinnon's lawyers are expected to launch a last-ditch application for judicial review to challenge the decision.

Mr Keith told Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and Mr Justice Globe that the Home Secretary proposed to give her decision "on or around October 16" while Parliament is sitting.

Sir John set down a timetable for any subsequent legal challenge, expected to take three to four days, to come to court some time after mid-November.

Mr Keith told the court one of the reasons for the mid-October decision date was the Home Secretary's "all-consuming" involvement in the Olympic Games - the biggest peacetime operation since the Second World War.

She also wants to announce her decision when Parliament is sitting.

Mrs Sharp said outside court: "If Theresa May has got an ounce of compassion she would make her decision now before the Olympics because she has any number of medical reports - these delays are destroying my son's life.

"There is already enough evidence from two Home Office-approved experts - one appointed by the Home Secretary - and there is another four in all.

"She should show a little bit of compassion. Gary cannot cope any more. Everybody has been finding it very difficult. It is absolutely ruining everybody's lives. It is now 10 years."

Earlier, Sir John, referring to the length of time the case had been going on, said it was "obviously right that it is brought to a finality".

McKinnon suffers from Asperger syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism - and admits to what one US lawyer called "the biggest military computer hack of all time", but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

His supporters fear he faces up to 60 years in jail if convicted of hacking into Pentagon and Nasa computers between February 2001 and March 2002.

The case was described by Mr Keith as "this rather vexed and perhaps totemic case" with important implications for Britain's extradition laws.

McKinnon's mother argues that the extradition laws were intended to catch international criminals - "not a lone individual with Asperger's sitting in a bedroom on his own".

Mrs Sharp says the Home Office "should accept the very clear and incontrovertible evidence provided by the country's leading psychiatric experts in this field.

"It's time to make the right decision and end Gary's torment of extradition.

"When he's fit and ready, as we have said all along, the CPS could try him in this country for his foolish acts that happened over a decade ago."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "This is a complex case, in a complex area of the law, and a large amount of material has been submitted, some of it relatively recently.

"The Home Secretary needs to consider all the material carefully before making a decision."

The National Autistic Society warned of fears that extradition could lead to tragedy.

The society's head of policy, Sarah Lambert, said: "There are still very real concerns that extraditing Gary McKinnon could have very serious and potentially tragic ramifications.

"This situation has dragged on for over 10 years - and the stress of this in itself will undoubtedly have had a negative impact on Gary's mental health.

"People with Asperger syndrome are particularly vulnerable and this should always be taken into account in legal proceedings."

In an updated statement, Mrs Sharp said: "I do not believe that my son Gary can continue to live for much longer in a permanent state of virtual terror."

Expressing the hope that Mrs May would give "a positive decision on Gary sooner than the court's expectation", she said: "The Olympics is an opportunity for a country to show its heart and courage to the world.

"Giving a vulnerable man like Gary his freedom from ten years of mental torture would have shown the best side of who we are as a nation.

"The Home Secretary has already had more than enough medical evidence on which to make a positive decision for Gary.

"It would have been such a huge relief if we too had been given closure to the never ending mental torment Gary is going through, as we are his family."

Mrs Sharp said two Home Office approved specialists, Dr Jan Vermeulen and Professor Declan Murphy, had both concluded after meeting and examining Gary that he was at extreme risk of suicide.

More recently Dr Vermeulen and others had stated that Gary was unfit for trial.

"Sadly the latest July 2012 medical report shows what a dreadful mental state Gary is now in, which is exacerbated by the extremely long delays and his seemingly never-ending nightmare.

"It's desperate watching my son like this. Each day that goes by is yet another blow to his mental state.

"The ten years of waiting, worrying and living in fear is unbearable. We would not tolerate an animal being put through such mental torment and cruelty, so how can we allow it to happen to a human being?"

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before