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Gary McKinnon extradition blocked: the facts

16th October 2012

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Theresa May today announced her decision to block Gary McKinnon's extradition. The US have demanded that McKinnon be sent to trial in America over the "biggest military computer hack of all time," however May announced that McKinnon will not go as the decision to extradite would be "incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights."

McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, says she was 'optimistic' that the government would block the extradition.

His mental condition means McKinnon believes without doubt that he will be killed if he is sent to America. Consequently, the chances that he would commit suicide before reaching the country were extremely high.

May has also announced new policy changing how the UK's extradition agreement with the US works. At the moment it is 'too easy' for the US to demand a UK citizen be put on trial in America, according to critics.

There is national support for McKinnon, which was neatly summed up by Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty. She told the BBC it was a critical decision for Gary, "who is a very, very vulnerable man," and the general consensus is in support of McKinnon, who has already served 10 years in prison here in the UK.

Why is he wanted in the US?

Between February 2001 and March 2002, Mr McKinnon hacked his way into 97 US military computers, including terminals owned by the US Navy, the Pentagon and NASA. The US claims that he deleted critical files from operating systems that led to the near-complete shut down of the US Army's Washington network, costing some $700,000.

He claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs and a cover up by the US about extraterrestrials. He left messages across the systems saying things like "Your security is crap."


Gary McKinnon is the Scottish hacker with autism, who has a fascination with UFOs.

Theresa May is the Conservative Home Secretary, meaning that she deals with policy involving policing, crime, terrorism, citizenship, identity cards and passports and the Prison Service. 


After 10 years in prison for McKinnon, May's announcement follows delays of around six months following a psychiatric assessment by the Home Office.

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