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Gary McKinnon set to learn extradition fate

Gary McKinnon is set to learn whether his 10-year battle against extradition to the US will finally end. Photo: PA Wire

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon is due to find out whether Home Secretary Theresa May will end his 10-year battle against extradition to the United States.

The ups and downs of his fight have been so cruel they amount to "waterboarding of the mind," his mother Janis Sharp said.

This is the most dreadful time ever. He just sits there. He's scared, he can't go out because people recognise him.

– Janis Sharp, Gary McKinnon's mother

But she is hopeful that Mrs May will end her son's suffering by blocking his extradition to the US, where he is accused of "the biggest military computer hack of all time".

The 46-year-old who suffers from Asperger's syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism - admits hacking into US military computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

Home Office medical evidence shows he is very likely to try to kill himself if extradited to the US, where he faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.

Here's a look back at McKinnon's case:

  • Between February 2001 and March 2002, the Glasgow-born computer expert allegedly hacked into 97 US government computers from his London home.
  • He is accused of leaving 300 computers at US Naval Weapons Station Earle in New Jersey unusable immediately after the September 11 terror attacks on America.
  • US prosecutors allege he deleted files which shut down the US army's military district of Washington DC network of more than 2,000 computers for 24 hours.
  • He admits hacking into military computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.
  • He was was arrested in 2002, and then again in 2005, before an order for his extradition was made in July 2006 under the 2003 Extradition Act.

If Mrs May 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.

A provisional hearing date has been set in the High Court for November 28 and 29.

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