Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 14:47 UK

Hacker's extradition put on hold

Gary McKinnon
Gary McKinnon says he acted out of curiosity, not malice

A Briton accused of hacking into secret military and Nasa computers has had his extradition to the US put on hold as new psychiatric evidence is considered.

Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon, 42, was denied permission to appeal to the Supreme Court against his removal.

He then had 14 days to appeal to the European Court, but the Home Office has agreed to consider new evidence and has put that 14-day deadline on hold.

Mr McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, could face decades in jail.

'Extremely vulnerable'

A Home Office spokesman said: "On 12 October his solicitors submitted further representations to the Home Secretary and we are considering what response to give to this latest material.

"In the meantime, we have confirmed to his solicitors that we do not consider the 14 days for a Strasbourg application as running."

Karen Todner, Mr McKinnon's lawyer, said she hoped Home Secretary Alan Johnson would "show some compassion to someone who is extremely vulnerable".

It does not matter if it takes some time to consider it, as long as they give it proper consideration
Karen Todner

Ms Todner said: "We appreciate the home secretary may feel otherwise, but very eminent lawyers have given the advice that he does have the power to intervene, in fact we would say he has a duty to intervene.

"We hope he will stop this extradition process, and of course there is still the option to prosecute him (Mr McKinnon) here.

"I do not know when we will hear from him. It does not matter if it takes some time to consider it, as long as they give it proper consideration."

She added that they had to exhaust "all domestic remedies" if they were considering taking the case to Europe.

Mr McKinnon has admitted breaking into the computers, but says he sought information on UFOs and only got in because of lax security.

The US government, however, insists he committed a malicious crime - the biggest military computer hack ever.

They say he stole passwords, deleted files and left 300 computers at a US navy weapons station unusable immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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