Gary McKinnon given more time to challenge Alan Johnson's decision to extradite him
British computer programmer Gary McKinnon has been granted another seven days to challenge Alan Johnson's decision to extradite him to America to answer computer hacking charges.
The news means that in theory that Mr McKinnon could be sent to America before the new year, if his application in the UK for judicial review is rejected, and he is refused leave to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr McKinnon was this afternoon given until Thursday 10 December to challenge a decision in the High Court by the Home Secretary to ignore fresh medical evidence about Mr McKinnon's autism.
Mr McKinnon's solictor Karen Todner of KaimTodner had asked for a two week extension until 17 December, however this was denied in a letter from the Treasury solicitors, on behalf of Mr Johnson.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Mr McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp questioned why the deadline was not extended further: "It is rididiculous. They could have easily extended it until after Christmas. It does not make sense."
If a high court judge refuses permission to challenge Mr Johnson's decision, Mr McKinnon's legal team have 14 days to hear whether the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will take on the case.
If the Strasbourg court says no, then Mr McKinnon will be extradited, possibly before the new year.
Mr McKinnon, 43, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, is accused of hacking into networks at the Pentagon and Nasa. However, he insists he was searching for reports of UFO sightings.
A health report handed to Mr Johnson had warned the Asperger syndrome sufferer would be a suicide risk if he is sent to the US for trial on charges of hacking into top secret military computers.
It urged him to halt the extradition on the grounds that it would breach human rights laws.
A Home Office spokesman said: "At the request of Gary McKinnon's solicitors, the Home Secretary has granted an extension of seven days in which to apply for judicial review."
There were heated exchanges in the House of Commons yesterday when Mr Johnson was accused of being "spineless" over the extradition battle by David Burrowes, the Tory shadow justice minister and Mr McKinnon's MP.
Mr Burrowes said: "How ill and vulnerable does Gary McKinnon need to be, to not be extradited to the US? How can it be proportionate to allow extradition of a UK citizen who is suicidal and sectionable.
"Far from you saying you are powerless to stop Gary McKinnon's extradition, in the light of this medical evidence, you have shown yourself and your Government to be spineless."
Mr Johnson told MPs that Mr McKinnon, 43, had been accused of “serious offences” relating to hacking into US Government computer networks over 13 months and that he had no option but to agree to the extradition.
“There are very serious charges against Mr McKinnon. He has to answer for those charges,” he added.