European court delays Pentagon hacker's extradition to US

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday temporarily held up the extradition of a British computer hacker facing computer misuse charges in the US.

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The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday temporarily held up the extradition of a British computer hacker facing computer misuse charges in the US.

The court said Gary McKinnon, 42, of London, should be allowed to stay in the UK until 28 August when the court reconvenes and can make a further decision on whether to stop his extradition pending a last-ditch appeal, said Karen Todner, McKinnon's lawyer.

McKinnon lost his last UK appeal on 30 July. He fought extradition on grounds that US authorities bullied him, trying to elicit a confession from him in exchange for a lesser sentence, a tactic known as plea bargaining and commonly used by prosecutors in the US.

The Lords of Appeal reject McKinnon's argument, saying that in the UK defendants often engage in similar negotiations.

McKinnon then filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. He also asked the court to stop his extradition pending his appeal even though it could take the court as long as two years to hear his case.

A US Embassy spokesman said Tuesday he was aware of the latest development but could not comment.

McKinnon's persistent battle against extradition could very well land him with a longer sentence. If he had pleaded guilty when the US offered him a deal, McKinnon could have been sentenced to as few as four years.

After serving six to 12 months in the US, he could have returned and done the rest of his sentence in the UK. A parole board could have authorised his release after serving a total of only two years, according to the Lords' judgement .

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