McKinnon charges dropped after ten year battle

Charges against Gary McKinnon for breaching US government IT systems have been dropped by UK authorities, bringing a decade long battle to an end.

In a statement from the Crown Prosecution Court and Metropolitan Police it was announced that a case against McKinnon would not proceed in the UK, following the decision to block his extradition to the US.

The joint statement highlighted the difficulties in bring a case against McKinnon in England, in part due to the logistics of transferring sensitive information prepared for US courts over to London, and need for US witnesses in a trial based in London.

The chances of bringing charges against McKinnon are also relatively low, the CPS contended.

“The prospects of a conviction against Mr McKinnon, which reflects the full extent of his alleged criminality, are not high,” the statement read.

“Against this background, the joint CPS/police panel recommended to the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that he should not commence a new criminal investigation into Mr McKinnon. The Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has accepted that advice.”

Since 2002, McKinnon has been embroiled in a fight to remain in the country, with the Asperger’s sufferer demanding the right to stay in the country on medical grounds.  It had been suggested by doctors that there would be a high chance of suicide if the Enfield resident was to face a sentence in US prisons. 

McKinnon is accused of gaining access to 97 US government computers between 2001 and 2002. He maintains that he was looking for evidence of UFOs on Nasa servers, rather than attempting to cause damage to any computer networks.

Following a lengthy legal battle, and an awareness campaign from his mother Janis Sharp, Home Secretary Theresa May announced in October that McKinnon would no longer face extradition to the US, although it would have been political suicide for May.

Sharp spoke to TechEye earlier this year about her appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron, who she hoped would resolve her son’s extradition battle directly with President Obama.   

Sharp appealed for a full pardon from the US government.

“I would love more than anything for President Obama to give Gary a Christmas pardon,” she told the BBC.  “A pardon would mean that it is completely finished in everyone’s head”.

The proposed extradition of McKinnon, along with another British citizen, Richard O’Dwyer, accused of copyright infringement, generated strong opposition from some MPs. The existing extradition agreement had been labelled one sided in Parliament.   

Open Rights Group Director Jim Killock recently told TechEye that despite the success in the legal battles for both McKinnon and O’Dwyer, under current legislation similar cases could still arise.