Medical evidence 'stops clock ticking' on McKinnon's extradition


Home Secretary Alan Johnson has explained why he "stopped the clock" on Gary McKinnon's extradition to the US on hacking charges, saying new medical evidence needed to be carefully reviewed.

It's been nearly two weeks since the government put a hold on McKinnon's extradition to the US, which had been set to happen as early as the end of this month if a new appeal to Europe courts didn't go through.

This is the first time Johnson has fully explained why, but the government did acknowledge at the time that the delay was to allow time for the Home Secretary to look over a new medical report into McKinnon's mental state. The admitted hacker was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome after he cracked into NASA and Pentagon computers in 2001 and 2002.

Johnson told Parliament: "We have stopped the clock ticking on the representation to the European court because new medical evidence has been provided."

"There are two issues upon which Gary McKinnon's legal advisors have argued: the first is that the director of public prosecutions should have tried him in this country... The high court in July dismissed that, and wouldn't allow it to go to judicial review," he added.

"I have to ensure that his Article 3 human rights are being respected. It's that new medical evidence that I will be looking at very carefully," Johnson explained.

McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp said her son had become suicidal. "The evidence is very powerful. I'm really glad the Home Secretary has decided to look at it, because Gary's health has already deteriorated so much. After eight years of constant stress, he is suicidal," she told the Times newspaper.

While the news will be appreciated by McKinnon's many supporters, it will leave some wondering why Johnson hasn't taken action sooner. The Home Secretary has repeatedly said there's nothing he can do to halt the extradition, despite the fact that McKinnon's mental state and Asperger's Syndrome have long been an issue in the case.

Click here for a timeline of McKinnon's legal battle.