UK to reveal extradition decision for British hacker

Gary McKinnon will learn on Tuesday whether he will be extradited to the US on computer hacking charges

The U.K. is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to extradite Gary McKinnon to the U.S., who was indicted in 2002 on charges of hacking into U.S. government computers.

The U.K's Home Secretary, Theresa May, will make the announcement in the House of Commons, according to McKinnon's attorney, Karen Todner, in a statement released Monday.

McKinnon, 46, of North London, has fought a decade-long battle against extradition in the courts with several lines of argument. His current request is for the U.K. to block extradition on medical grounds since he has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disorder related to autism characterized by deficiencies in social interaction, as well as depression.

McKinnon said he would like to face trial in the U.K., but the Crown Prosecution Service has said U.S. prosecutors have jurisdiction and the majority of evidence is in the U.S.

The case has drawn celebrity support from Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour as well as Sting, lead singer and bassist for The Police. It also came up in conversation when Prime Minister David Cameron met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in July 2010, but to no resolution.

McKinnon's plight prompted a British inquiry over the fairness of the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty, which concluded in October 2011 that the U.K. and U.S. legal systems are similar, with no differences in how an arrest is justified.

Although he has publicly admitted to hacking, McKinnon contends he was merely searching for proof 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.

According to the indictment, McKinnon is accused of deleting critical files and causing up to US$800,000 in damages, hampering U.S. military efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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