Computer hacker Gary McKinnon made a repeat request for a UK trial instead of extradition, alongside both advisors and supporters in London.
McKinnon admits to hacking into U.S. government computer systems in 2001 and 2002, in attempts of finding information regarding UFOs, which he believed U.S. authorities had suppressed.
The U.S. classified McKinnon’s actions as cyber-terrorism. As a result, if extradited, he may be forced to serve 70 years in a maximum security jail. McKinnon’s legal team has written to the Crown Prosecution Service, asking for a trial in the UK rather than extradition. They will receive an answer within the next four weeks.
A significant new element has been added to the case, in the fact that McKinnon has recently been diagnosed with a form of autism, Asperger's Syndrome. The syndrome often results in problems regarding communication with others, along with the development of obsessive interests.
The granting of McKinnon’s extradition occurred before his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, and his legal team was originally scheduled to present an oral case on January 20, asking for consent to apply for a judicial review covering his extradition. However, McKinnon’s lawyers will now head to the court on Friday, in order to request a wait on their oral hearing until that outcome is revealed.
At a news conference specifically called regarding the case, autism expert Professor Simon Baron-Cohen explained that McKinnon's crime supported signs of Asperger’s Syndrome, such as an obsession with finding out the truth. Professor Baron-Cohen also said that McKinnon’s actions "should be treated as the activity of somebody with a disability rather than a criminal activity".
According to Professor Baron-Cohen, "It can bring a sort of tunnel vision so that in their pursuit of the truth they are blind to the potential social consequences for them or for other people.”
The professor further explained that prison life would be unbearable for an Asperger’s sufferer and even has the potential to worsen the condition.
According to Lucy Clarke, the hacker's girlfriend of four years, McKinnon has been depressed and if forced to undergo extradition, "He would be suicidal."
Throughout the time when his lawyers and supporters were stating their arguments, McKinnon sporadically provided additional explanations on details he considered important, but mainly gazed into space.
"I'm doing that typical bloke thing and pretending it's not happening," McKinnon explained. "I'm on Beta blockers and very stressed. I'm cold and calm on the outside, but inside the fires of hell are burning.”