Gary McKinnon, 46, will not be extradited to the U.S., where he is accused of hacking into at least 97 government computers operated by the NASA and Pentagon. The hacks were carried out between 2001 and 2002 from his girlfriend’s aunt’s house in London.
McKinnon was arrested in 2002, and since then, his mother has been fighting against his extradition to the U.S. McKinnon, a resident of Scotland, has not denied the hacks and instead said that “he was motivated by curiosity and that he only managed to get into the networks because of lax security,” according to the Telegraph. He has also said that he hacked the computers in search for evidence of UFOs.
The U.S. government claims his hacks caused $700,000 in damages, CNET reported.
Sharp contends that her son is mentally ill, suffering from a form of autism known as Asperger’s syndrome that was diagnosed in 2008. It was this illness that ultimately forced Home Secretary Theresa May to deny extradition Tuesday.
"He has Asperger's syndrome, and suffers from depressive illness. The legal question before me is now whether the extent of that illness is sufficient to preclude extradition,” May said, according to the BBC.
“After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights."
On the eve of hearing about the decision regarding her son’s extradition, Sharp spoke to the BBC about her son and the effect his arrest has had on her and his family.
“For 10 years he has lived in this zombified life,” Sharp told the BBC. “It has destroyed him. It has destroyed our lives. We worked 24 hours a day with no money, trying to fight this case.”
Screengrab via BBC