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Theresa May: Hacker Gary McKinnon to stay in UK

Cliff Saran

Home secretary Theresa May has issued a statement, which has effectively blocked the extradition of hacker Gary McKinnon.

In September, May told Parliament that the coalition agreement committing the government to reviewing the UK's extradition arrangements worldwide to ensure it operates effectively and in the interests of justice.

However she told MPs today that extraditing McKinnon would give rise to such a serious risk that he would take his own life that it was contrary to his human rights, the Times reported.

In her statement May said: "After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights."

McKinnon, an Asperger's Syndrome sufferer, is facing charges of hacking into US military computers in 2002. The extradition order had previously been stalled by a disagreement over the medical evidence that suggested he was psychologically so frail it would be inhumane to allow foreign police to take him. The government had promised to revise the extradition treaty in respect of McKinnon's plight.

The home secretary's change of heart follows the case of another UK citizen, Richard O’Dwyer.

In July, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called for a meeting with May after an unprecedented response to his online campaign to block UK student Richard O’Dwyer’s extradition to the US. 

At the time, Wales said: “O'Dwyer is not a US citizen, he's lived in the UK all his life, his site was not hosted there and most of his users were not from the US.”


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