Gary McKinnon, indicted in 2002 on charges of hacking into US government computers, will not be extradited to the US, Home Secretary Theresa May said today.
The risk to McKinnon's health posed by extradition to the US was simply too great, according to May.
McKinnon has fought a decade-long battle in the UK courts to avoid against extradition to the US, seeking instead to face trial in the UK. He has Asperger's syndrome and is at high risk for suicide, according to statement issued yesterday by his attorney Karen Todner.
Psychiatrists appointed by the Home Secretary have confirmed part of that diagnosis. According to Todner's statement they said: "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."
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 $800,000 in damages, and also hampering US military efforts after the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks.