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11th-hour lifeline for computer hacker

PUBLISHED: 15:30 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 07 September 2010

By Robyn Rosen COMPUTER hacker and former Crouch End resident, Gary McKinnon has been given a lifeline in the 11th hour, just days before a final decision on his extradition is made. Mr McKinnon, 42 and a former Highgate Wood pupil, is currently awaitin

By Robyn Rosen

COMPUTER hacker and former Crouch End resident, Gary McKinnon has been given a lifeline in the 11th hour, just days before a final decision on his extradition is made.

Mr McKinnon, 42 and a former Highgate Wood pupil, is currently awaiting extradition after being accused of causing $700,000 worth of damage when he allegedly hacked into US security systems from his Hillfield Avenue home in 2002.

Today, his lawyers received a letter from the director of public prosecutions (DPP) stating it would take up to four weeks to deliberate over Mr McKinnon's signed confession.

Last month, Mr McKinnon, who faces up to 60 years in an American prison, signed a formal confession pleading guilty to computer misuse, in an attempt to have him tried in this country.

On Tuesday (January 20), he faces an oral application for a judicial review at the High Court, where his lawyers now plan to delay the extradition until after the DPP has come to a decision.

"If that fails, we really have come to the end of the line," Mr McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, said. "Gary would then be extradited within the next 10 days."

Meanwhile, the leading authority on autism has defended Mr McKinnon in a plea to prevent his extradition.

Today Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, who diagnosed Mr McKinnon with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, in August, pledged his support to the UFO enthusiast.

"We should be thinking of this as the activity of someone with a disability, not a criminal activity," he said. "There are questions as to whether he should be imprisoned at all. Someone was Asperger's would find it very difficult to deal with it.

"He believed that what he was doing was right.


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