Yesterday, as I was returning from a vacation in Istanbul (I’ll leave stories of my close encounter with a bellydancer and a bout of food poisoning – hopefully unrelated – to another time), I heard of the latest sadly predictable twist in the long running saga of Gary McKinnon’s attempts to avoid extradition to the United States.
McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, was arrested seven years ago after breaking into computers belonging to the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA.
The 43-year-old hacker claims that he accessed the computer systems only to hunt for top secret information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and alien technology, which he believed the authorities were hiding from the public.
For their part, the US authorities claim that McKinnon caused some $800,000 worth of damage.
At the end of July, McKinnon and his supporters lost a judicial review which they hoped would lead to a British investigation into his case, rather than extradition to the USA. Following that setback the team requested the right to appeal to the UK’s new Supreme Court.
Yesterday it was announced that McKinnon will not be allowed to take his appeal against extradition to the UK Supreme Court, because his case is not of “general public importance”.
That decision is likely to disappoint McKinnon’s many supporters, who include members of all the major British political parties, celebrities and 71% of IT professionals we polled earlier this year.
Gary McKinnon’s mother Janis Sharp spoke emotionally on BBC Radio 5 about the impact on her son by the latest decision.