The British home secretary is considering the medical condition of Gary McKinnon, who is in a desperate fight to avoid extradition to the United States to face Pentagon and NASA hacking charges.
According to British media reports, Home Secretary Alan Johnson told members of Parliament that he temporarily has halted extradition proceedings to give McKinnon's lawyers time to consider new medical reports and formulate legal arguments.
McKinnon, 43, is accused of hacking into 97 computers operated by the U.S. government, including those of the Pentagon, Army, Air Force and NASA. American authorities have said his actions resulted in a shutdown of the Army's Military District of Washington network, containing more than 2,000 computers and resulting in $700,000 in damage.
McKinnon has maintained that he is simply a computer geek and only wanted to find evidence of alien life and UFOs.
McKinnon's lawyers said the extradition would lead to "disastrous consequences" for his health, including possible psychosis and suicide, according to published reports. They claim McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, is in an “extremely fragile mental state.”
McKinnon, who has been fighting extradition for nearly 4-1/2 years after being charged with what prosecutors termed the biggest military hack of all time, has lost every major legal battle to stay in Britain and was informed in July that the British High Court would not review a decision from an earlier appeal, essentially rejecting the claim that he should stay in the country because of his medical problems, according to published reports.