Gary McKinnon will not face charges for hacking


Gary McKinnon 'tearful with joy' after top prosecutor confirms the computer hacker will face no further criminal actionGary McKinnon will not face charges, says Director of Public ProsecutionsDifficulty of co-ordinating U.S. and UK authorities made trial impracticalHacker's legal victory comes after long-running campaign led by the Mail

|

UPDATED:

00:38 GMT, 15 December 2012


Relief: Gary McKinnon with his mother Janis yesterday. He will not face any criminal charges

Relief: Gary McKinnon with his mother Janis yesterday. He will not face any criminal charges

Gary McKinnon’s ten-year nightmare was finally over yesterday after police and prosecutors decided he will not stand trial in Britain.

The computer hacker won his fight against extradition two months ago when Theresa May blocked US demands to send him there.

That decision marked a victory for the Daily Mail’s An Affront to British Justice campaign.

Now Director of Public Prosecutions
Keir Starmer has announced that the 46-year-old Asperger’s sufferer, who
medical experts warned would be very likely to kill himself if
extradited, will not face criminal charges in this country either.

Speaking last night Mr McKinnon said: ‘This is the cherry on the cake, it’s just amazing.

‘It has been a terrifying experience hanging over me for so long. I now feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me.’

His mother Janis Sharp said: ‘This will be the 11th Christmas since his arrest and it is the first time we can celebrate.

‘We can all now finally breathe a sigh
of relief. I no longer have the feeling of constant terror that my son
will be taken away from me.’

The decision not to bring charges came on Mrs Sharp’s 64th birthday. She added: ‘I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present.

‘It’s just wonderful. The next thing I would like to get, impossible though it seems, would be a pardon from President Obama.’

Mrs Sharp said she hoped that the US
authorities would now drop their extradition warrant for her son, who
has always been willing to stand trial in the UK.

Threat: The autistic alleged hacker was saved from extradition to the U.S. in October

Threat: The autistic alleged hacker was saved from extradition to the U.S. in October

‘He regrets what he’s done. He wishes
he hadn’t done it. He wishes he hadn’t upset the Americans. We all
regret it. But I’m grateful to Theresa May that this is all over now.’

If extradited, Mr McKinnon, from Wood
Green, North London, faced up to 60 years behind bars for hacking into
Pentagon and Nasa computers looking for the existence of ‘little green
men’.

But in a dramatic, 11th-hour decision
in October, the Home Secretary defied American demands and blocked his
removal under the controversial 2003 Extradition Act.

Her announcement, in a statement to
the Commons, drew cheers from MPs and marked a watershed for the Mail
campaign, launched in 2009 to allow Mr McKinnon to be tried here.

Relief: Ms Sharp spoke of her joy at seeing her son cleared on Friday, which is her birthday

Relief: Ms Sharp spoke of her joy at seeing her son cleared on Friday, which is her birthday

Saga: Mr McKinnon, pictured in 2005, has been embroiled in his legal battle for more than a decade

Saga: Mr McKinnon, pictured in 2005, has been embroiled in his legal battle for more than a decade

The campaign had attracted widespread
political support and celebrities had also added their voices in the
fight to keep him in the UK.

Mrs May told MPs that his 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’.

His fate then rested in the hands of the DPP, who had to decide whether Mr McKinnon should stand trial in a British court.

In a statement on behalf of the Crown
Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police, Mr Starmer said nothing had
changed from 2002, when it was decided that the appropriate place for a
trial was the United States. He said: ‘Most of the witnesses are in the
US, as is nearly all the physical evidence and the bulk of the unused
material, some of which is sensitive.’

No charge: Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, ruled that Mr McKinnon should not stand trial

No charge: Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, ruled that Mr McKinnon should not stand trial

British prosecutors met US Justice officials last month to discuss transferring the case to Britain.

But Mr Starmer said: ‘The potential
difficulties in bringing a case in England and Wales now should not be
underestimated, not least the passage of time, the logistics of
transferring sensitive evidence prepared for a court in the US to London
for trial, the participation of US government witnesses in the trial
and the need fully to comply with the duties of disclosure imposed on
the CPS.

‘The prospects of a conviction against Mr McKinnon which reflects the full extent of his alleged criminality are not high.’

How Mail took up the fight

How Mail took up the fight

The Americans had been willing to
co-operate, said the DPP, but he added: ‘However, they do not consider
that making all the US witnesses available for trial in London and
transferring all of the US material to this jurisdiction would be in the
interests of justice given our representations and the reasons for the
decision that the US was the appropriate forum.’

Mr McKinnon’s lawyer Karen Todner
said: ‘I have mixed feelings about this – I am pleased he is not going
to be prosecuted because I wouldn’t want to think he would ever spend
any time in prison given his mental situation.

‘But I am disappointed because the
extradition warrant is still outstanding because he can’t travel
anywhere outside of the UK and will have this hanging over him until
it’s resolved.’