UK & World News
Gary McKinnon: Hacker To Learn Extradition Fate
Computer hacker Gary McKinnon will find out later whether Home Secretary Theresa May will end his 10-year battle against extradition to the United States.
The ups and downs of his fight have been so cruel they amount to "waterboarding of the mind", his mother Janis Sharp said.
But she is hopeful that Mrs May will end her son's suffering by blocking his extradition to the US, where he is accused of "the biggest military computer hack of all time".
It has been reported that the Home Secretary will announce reforms to the UK's extradition arrangements alongside her ruling on Mr McKinnon, 46.
In future, a court hearing will have to be held to decide where a person should stand trial - a so-called forum bar, according to the Daily Mail.
The move comes despite a review by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker which said the bar would create delay and even more court cases.
Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism, admits hacking into US military computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.
Home Office medical evidence shows he is very likely to try to kill himself if extradited to the US, where he faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted.
Ms Sharp said the US stance appeared to soften this summer, with Government adviser John Arquilla saying the US should be recruiting elite computer hackers to launch cyber-attacks against terrorists instead of prosecuting them.
But she admitted she was "still scared" ahead of the decision. "It's like waterboarding of the mind - you're elated, you're down, it's so cruel," Ms Sharp said, referring to the simulated drowning technique which became notorious after its use by CIA interrogators on Guantanamo Bay terror suspects.
Prime Minister David Cameron has raised McKinnon's case with US President Barack Obama twice "and each time I thought we were nearly home and dry but nothing happens", she added.
"I'm more optimistic now. I don't see how they could say that in evidence and then extradite."
Both Mr Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg have previously publicly condemned plans to send McKinnon to the US.
For her son, "this is the most dreadful time ever", Ms Sharp said. "He just sits there. He's scared, he can't go out because people recognise him."
Despite being a keen musician, he has not picked up any instrument in years and, as he was banned from going online, he was "not allowed any outlet". "He sits in the dark with his two cats," she said.
He is simply waiting with "anxiety, but hope" that the Home Secretary will halt his extradition, his lawyer Karen Todner added.
Mr McKinnon, from Wood Green, north London, was arrested in 2002, and then again in 2005, before an order for his extradition was made in July 2006 under the 2003 Extradition Act.
That triggered three successive applications for judicial review and questions about the fairness of the UK-US extradition treaty, which critics claim is "one-sided".
An independent review of the UK's extradition arrangements by Sir Scott Baker last year found the current treaty between the US and the UK was both balanced and fair.
But the Government is under pressure to ignore its findings after MPs called on ministers to bring forward new laws and attempt to change the UK-US extradition treaty.
If Mrs May decides to allow extradition to go ahead, McKinnon's lawyers are expected to launch a last-ditch application for judicial review to challenge the decision.
A provisional hearing date has been set in the High Court for November 28 and 29.