JUDGES have criticised the UK Government for allowing the case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to drag on.
They attempted to speed matters up by listing the hearing for July.
The move at the High Court in London came after it heard that Home Secretary Theresa May was “considering afresh” whether McKinnon, an Asperger’s sufferer, should be extradited to the United States to face trial for hacking into military computers in 2002.
Edward Fitzgerald, QC, appearing for McKinnon, told the judges it was hoped Mrs May would now block extradition. He said medical evidence before her showed McKinnon, 45, was “suffering from a serious mental disorder and there was a serious risk of suicide if extradited”.
Glasgow-born McKinnon, of north London, admits hacking but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.
His mother, Janis Sharp, recently called for him to be tried in Britain. She said he was facing his tenth Christmas since his arrest and suffering severe depression amid predictions he could be jailed for 60 years in the US.
McKinnon was arrested in 2005, and an order for extradition was made in July 2006 under the 2003 Extradition Act. That triggered three successive applications for a judicial review and questions about the fairness of the UK-US extradition treaty.
Yesterday Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Cranston, said the case had been “dragging on for a very long time” and could not be allowed to do so indefinitely.
Hugo Keith, QC, appearing for Mrs May, said the delays were caused by the change of government, the new Home Secretary’s decision to look at the case and difficulties in gathering new psychiatric evidence.
Lord Justice Richards said he was fixing a hearing date in July “to concentrate minds”.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights campaign group Liberty, said: “Gary McKinnon’s ten years in limbo shame the UK authorities and outrage the public.”