The British home secretary has refused to block Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the United States to face charges of hacking into U.S. military computers.
According to reports, Home Secretary Alan Johnson decided new medical evidence was not sufficient cause for him to block McKinnon’s extradition. McKinnon stands accused of hacking into computers at NASA, the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Department of Defense during 2001 and 2002.
McKinnon’s lawyers have said he has Asperger Syndrome and that his condition should be taken into account.
According to the BBC, Johnson said he considered the information about McKinnon’s medical condition, but found sending him to the United States would not endanger his human rights.
“Due to legitimate concerns over Mr. McKinnon’s health, we have sought and received assurances from the United States authorities that his needs will be met,” Johnson reportedly said.
The decision by the home secretary is a blow to McKinnon and his supporters, and means he could be extradited to the United States potentially in the next few weeks. If convicted, McKinnon-who told Reuters in 2006 he hacked U.S. military computers in search of proof of alien life-could face several decades in prison.
“The feeling seems to be that it’s peculiar to make an example of a UFO conspiracy theorist when more serious crimes are being regularly carried out by financially motivated hackers, stealing identities, sending spam and creating botnets,” blogged Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley. “However, unless McKinnon’s supporters can pull a cat out of the bag, he could be on a plane heading for the USA by Christmas.”