Home Secretary to decide on McKinnon extradition by October

Scots sysadmin waits to hear if he'll face NASA hacking charges in the US


The UK Home Secretary is due to decide by mid-October whether or not to order Gary McKinnon's extradition to the US, a hearing at the High Court heard on Tuesday.

The hearing followed a decision by McKinnon and his legal team to decline to undergo a Home Office medical test by a doctor, Professor Thomas Fahy, whom McKinnon's legal team said lacked specialist skill in assessing the mental state of people with Asperger's. Experts in autism, including Doctor Jan Vermeulen who carried out a face-to-face assessment of McKinnon, have warned that McKinnon is at severe risk of committing suicide if faced with the prospect of a US trial on computer hacking charges.

An assessment of his suicide risk will be a key factor in the deliberations of Home Secretary Theresa May.

McKinnon, 46, admits hacking into US military and NASA computers during 2001 and 2002 with the aim of hunting for suppressed evidence about UFOs. But he denies causing damage and has consistently sought a trial in the UK since extradition proceeding began in late 2005, three years after his arrest by UK police.

His case was the topic of unsuccessful appeals that went all the way up to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights before McKinnon was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, in August 2008. Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson allowed McKinnon’s extradition despite medical evidence but extradition was later blocked pending a judicial review. This review was adjourned after the UK's incoming Home Secretary, Theresa May, decided to re-examine the medical evidence back in May 2010.

Last week a Home Office spokesman said May was close to making a decision. "The Home Secretary will make a decision as soon as possible: this is a complex case, in a complex area of the law, and a large amount of material has been submitted, some of it relatively recently," he said.

McKinnon's case for trial in the UK has been supported by numerous public figures including Sting, David Gilmour, Stephen Fry, Terry Waite, Tony Benn, and numerous politicians of all hues. The issue has spawned debate in Parliament and reviews of the extradition laws between the US and UK, which critics argue are one-sided and unfair. Efforts to come to a diplomatic agreement about the case have been fruitless.

May's decision in October is unlikely to be the last word on the case, if past form is any guide. And a further judicial review is more than likely if this review goes against McKinnon. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Will this be one of the world's first RISC-V laptops?
    A sneak peek at a notebook that could be revealed this year

    Pic As Apple and Qualcomm push for more Arm adoption in the notebook space, we have come across a photo of what could become one of the world's first laptops to use the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture.

    In an interview with The Register, Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International, signaled we will see a RISC-V laptop revealed sometime this year as the ISA's governing body works to garner more financial and development support from large companies.

    It turns out Philipp Tomsich, chair of RISC-V International's software committee, dangled a photo of what could likely be the laptop in question earlier this month in front of RISC-V Week attendees in Paris.

    Continue reading
  • Did ID.me hoodwink Americans with IRS facial-recognition tech, senators ask
    Biz tells us: Won't someone please think of the ... fraud we've stopped

    Democrat senators want the FTC to investigate "evidence of deceptive statements" made by ID.me regarding the facial-recognition technology it controversially built for Uncle Sam.

    ID.me made headlines this year when the IRS said US taxpayers would have to enroll in the startup's facial-recognition system to access their tax records in the future. After a public backlash, the IRS reconsidered its plans, and said taxpayers could choose non-biometric methods to verify their identity with the agency online.

    Just before the IRS controversy, ID.me said it uses one-to-one face comparisons. "Our one-to-one face match is comparable to taking a selfie to unlock a smartphone. ID.me does not use one-to-many facial recognition, which is more complex and problematic. Further, privacy is core to our mission and we do not sell the personal information of our users," it said in January.

    Continue reading
  • Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware
    Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

    Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

    In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022