Self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon has been granted a reprieve from extradition to the US where he faces up to 70 years in jail for hacking federal and Pentagon computers.
The High Court today granted permission for a judicial review of Home Secretary Alan Johnson's decision to extradite McKinnon.
Karen Todner, McKinnon's lawyer, welcomed the decision but said it was countered by McKinnon's "very poor mental state". McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, an autistic condition, is said to be suicidal as a result the legal process that began when he was first arrested in 2002.
McKinnon has admitted hacking the systems but has denied causing the damages claimed by the US. He has said repeatedly he was willing to be tried in the UK.
"I would urge Mr Johnson to review his decision, and I appeal to (US President Barak) Obama to withdraw the application for extradition. Mr McKinnon's suffering has gone on long enough," Todner said.
Todner said she expected the judicial review to beheld in April or May. McKinnon will remain in the UK at least until then, she said.
Janis Sharp, Gary's mother, who has waged a relentless battle on Twitter and other forums to gather support for McKinnon, described the decision as "some common sense at last".
"I couldn't stop crying when we heard the news. We're so pleased & the sense of relief is indescribable. Gary says he's still in shock," she said.
Sharp said the judge. Mr Justic Mitting, had made "an honourable and decent decision. "We've fought for so long for compassion and understanding," she said.
She said McKinnon's health had so deteriorated that it had been traumatic to see. "I hope this brings him comfort that the right decision will be made, even if it requires the courts to impose it rather than our government to reach it," she said.
McKinnon himself declined to comment on the decision.
Mr Justice Mitting said McKinnon's application raised two issues: whether the Home Secretary was compelled by the medical evidence to refuse to surrender McKinnon to the US under Section 6 of the Human Rights Act, and whether new medical evidence on Mckinnon's condition, constituted a fundamental change in circumstances previously considered by the Home Secretary.
He considered both issues to be arguable, and that if the answers to both issues were affirmative, then it was arguable that the Home Secretary's decision to extradite Mr McKinnon would be unlawful.