Gary McKinnon, indicted in 2002 on charges of hacking into U.S. government computers, will not be extradited to the U.S., the U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May said on Tuesday.
The risk to McKinnon's health posed by extradition to the U.S. was simply too great, according to May.
McKinnon has fought a decade-long battle in the U.K. courts to avoid against extradition to the U.S., seeking instead to face trial in the U.K. He has Asperger's syndrome and is at high risk for suicide, according to statement issued Monday by his attorney Karen Todner.
Psychiatrists appointed by the Home Secretary have confirmed part of that diagnosis, saying: "We can not offer reassurance that McKinnon would not attempt to, or be successful in, harming or killing himself if he is arrested or extradited," Todner's statement said.
Although McKinnon has publicly admitted to hacking, he has maintained that he was merely searching for proof of the existence of UFOs and that he did not harm the computers he accessed. He also pointed out weaknesses in the systems, such as the use of default passwords.
However, according to the indictment, McKinnon is accused of deleting critical files and causing up to US$800,000 in damages, and also hampering U.S. military efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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