Court allows hacker to fight U.S. trial

Jan. 23, 2009 at 9:12 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A British court gave computer hacker Gary McKinnon another chance Friday to contest his extradition to the United States, where he could face a life sentence.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith ordered the extradition in October. Two High Court judges found McKinnon has enough of a case that he is entitled to a court hearing even if Smith's order proves to be "unassailable," the Daily Telegraph reported.

McKinnon, 42, is charged with hacking into and sabotaging U.S. defense systems. He has signed a statement that he violated Britain's Computer Misuse Act 1990.

At the hearing, McKinnon's lawyers argued that he suffers from Asperger syndrome, which was only diagnosed in August, and might be at risk of mental breakdown or suicide if he is sent to the United States. They also suggested that the disease, a less severe form of autism, meant he did not realize his actions were wrong.

The director of public prosecutions is considering a motion to have McKinnon tried in Britain, and Smith has agreed to delay extradition until he makes his decision.

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