Hacker Gary McKinnon to be extradited to the US

Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon is to be extradited to the US to face hacking chargers, after Home Secretary Alan Johnson refused to step in.

McKinnon has admitted hacking into NASA and Pentagon computers, but he and his supporters have argued he should not be extradited to the US because he suffers from Asperger's Syndrome.

Johnson has long said there is nothing he can do to prevent the extradition, but halted it temporarily to consider a new medical report into McKinnon's mental health.

Today, the home secretary in a letter said: "His extradition to the United States must proceed forthwith."

Johnson was quoted by the Telegraph newspaper as saying he had "carefully considered" the case, but didn't see that a report regarding McKinnon's mental health was "materially different" from that which was presented to the High Court previously this year and "does not demonstrate that sending Mr McKinnon to the United States would breach his human rights."

"If Mr McKinnon's human rights would be breached, I must stop the extradition," Johnson said. "If they would not be breached, the extradition must go ahead."

Johnson said his government had "sought and recieved assurances" from American authorities that McKinnon's medical needs would be met and would not serve his sentence in a "supermax" prison - those designed for the worst criminals who pose a threat to national security, such as terrorists.

"Finally, should Mr McKinnon be extradited, charged and convicted in the US and seek repatriation to the UK to serve a custodial sentence, the Government will of course progress his application at the very earliest opportunity," Johnson said.

Johnson added: "I know there is a concern on all sides to see a conclusion to these proceedings. It is now open to Mr McKinnon's lawyer to consider their legal options. As a consequence I do not propose to comment any further."

The concern isn't just to see a conclusion to the proceedings, however. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp said: "Gary is at risk of suicide, I'm extremely worried about him... This government is terrified of speaking up to America, and now they are allowing vulnerable people to be pursued for non-violent crime when they should be going after terrorists. Why are they doing this?"

Click here for our timeline of Gary McKinnon's case.