Hacker declared fit to stand trial in US court

  • @robhastings

Gary McKinnon is almost certain to be extradited to the US after a psychiatrist declared him fit to be sent abroad, despite the same doctor having said three years ago that the computer hacker was too great a suicide risk to be handed to American authorities.

A report into Mr McKinnon's health, ordered by the Home Secretary Theresa May to aid her decision on whether to allow the extradition to go ahead, has classed Mr McKinnon as merely a "moderate" threat to his own life, according to Channel 4 News.

The report was made by Professor Declan Murphy of King's College London, who wrote three years ago that Mr McKinnon was likely to make a "serious attempt at suicide" after conducting an personal assessment of the 46-year-old Asperger's sufferer.

Professor Murphy made his reclassification without reinterviewing Mr McKinnon, who is wanted in the US for hacking into the computers of Nasa and the Pentagon, after his family denied him permission. In his original report, commissioned by Mr McKinnon's family, Professor Murphy wrote that the hacker had stated that he would take his own life by overdosing on sleeping tablets.

The new evaluation, requested by the Home Office, appears to have rested on the provision of "mental health professionals with supportive counselling" while he is in custody, and the fact that his suicide plans "are not well formulated". Professor Murphy added that Mr McKinnon "did not express significant hopelessness or helplessness". Four other psychiatrists have also submitted assessments, but it is thought that Professor Murphy's opinion will be crucial.

The hacker's mother, Janis Sharp, said that she could not understand why Professor Murphy had "changed his mind" and gone against the opinions of others involved in the case.