A British court ruled on Friday that a man who hacked into US military computers will be giving permission for a judicial review against his extradition to the United States.
Hacker Gary McKinnon, 42, who had been diagnosed recently with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, has admitted hacking into the military computers. His lawyers had said McKinnon was at risk of suicide if he were extradited.
Lord Justice Maurice Kay agreed to permit McKinnon's lawyers to present arguments at a hearing in March that will determine if he gets a chance to formally appeal the extradition.
We are overjoyed that the British courts have shown sense and compassion by allowing our son Gary, a young man with Asperger's syndrome, this judicial review, said Janis Sharp, McKinnson's mother to the press.
We have always been outraged by the Home Office's decision to have him extradited to stand trial in a foreign land where he would face an out-of-proportion sentence for what is essentially a crime of eccentricity.
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Lawyers for the home secretary had argued against the review, saying the risk to Mr McKinnon's health was low.
U.S. prosecutors say McKinnon, broke into 97 computers belonging to NASA, the Department of Defense and several branches of the military from a bedroom in a north London home, causing nearly $1 billion in damage.
McKinnon said he was looking for evidence of Unidentified Flying Objects and was only able to success because of the lax security.
The hackings took soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, shutting down the U.S. Army district responsible for protecting Washington, D.C., and cleared logs from computers at Naval Weapons Station Earle in northern New Jersey.
McKinnon was caught in 2002 when investigators traced software used in the attacks to his girlfriend's e-mail account.
If extradited, he could face a sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He would face a trial on eight charges of computer fraud.
McKinnon has said he believes he will get a fairer trial in the UK and that he found the situation stressful.
I am very controlled, which is probably not a good thing, but inside the fires of hell are burning. It's not a good place to be, he said.