17 Oct 2012

UK refuses to extradite computer hacker

7:47 am on 17 October 2012

The British government has blocked the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to the United States.

Mr McKinnon admits hacking into Pentagon and NASA computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs. He has been fighting extradition since 2005.

The 46-year-old, who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, faced 60 years in jail if convicted in the US.

Home Secretary Theresa May said there was such a high risk that Mr McKinnon would attempt suicide that a decision to extradite him would be incompatible with his human rights.

She told the British Parliament that the Director of Public Prosecutions would decide whether he should face trial in the UK.

Mr McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, said she was overwhelmed after an emotional rollercoaster and said Mrs May had been incredibly brave to stand up to the US.

US authorities have described Mr McKinnon's actions as the "biggest military computer hack of all time" and have demanded he face justice in America.

They insisted his hacking was "intentional and calculated to influence and affect the US government by intimidation and coercion".