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11th hour lifeline for computer hacker

PUBLISHED: 11:07 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 07 September 2010

Gary McKinnon attends a press conference in London, on January 15, 2009, in an attempt to urge the Prime Minister to prevent his extradition to the US. Mr McKinnon currently faces extradition to the US under anti-terrorism laws following his breaching of US Government computers, dating back to 2001. Gary McKinnon, 42, from Wood Green, north London, faces up to 70 years in prison if he is found guilty in the US of hacking into and damaging 97 US Navy, Army, Nasa and Pentagon computers. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

Gary McKinnon attends a press conference in London, on January 15, 2009, in an attempt to urge the Prime Minister to prevent his extradition to the US. Mr McKinnon currently faces extradition to the US under anti-terrorism laws following his breaching of US Government computers, dating back to 2001. Gary McKinnon, 42, from Wood Green, north London, faces up to 70 years in prison if he is found guilty in the US of hacking into and damaging 97 US Navy, Army, Nasa and Pentagon computers. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

2009 AFP

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

By Robyn Rosen

COMPUTER hacker and former Crouch End resident Gary McKinnon has been given an 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.

His lawyers received a letter from the director of public prosecutions (DPP) yesterday 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.

At a special press conference on Thursday, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, who diagnosed Mr McKinnon with Asperger's syndrome 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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