The government has cancelled a court hearing for Gary McKinnon who hacked US military computers while it reconsiders an extradition order that would send him to face a US trial.
A judicial review scheduled to begin next Tuesday in the High Court has been adjourned by the Home Office, which oversees criminal justice affairs, according to lawyers for McKinnon.
"I hope this may be a signal of a more compassionate and caring home secretary and one that is willing to defend the rights of our citizens," said McKinnon's lawyer, Karen Todner.
The latest turn in the case is a sign that McKinnon may get a sympathetic ear from Britain's new coalition government.
In opposition, current Prime Minister David Cameron and Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister, lent their support for McKinnon, questioning the terms of the U.-US extradition treaty and the circumstances of McKinnon's case.
McKinnon, whose extradition was approved in 2006, has yet to face trial in the US. McKinnon was indicted by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2002 for hacking into 97 military and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002. He could face up to 60 years in prison.
McKinnon, who claims he was hunting for evidence of UFOs, is fighting extradition on grounds he has Asperger's syndrome, a neurological disorder related to autism characterized by deficiencies in social interaction. McKinnon, who is rarely seen in public, is also suffering from depression, according to his family.
McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, said the family was "grateful" the home secretary will reconsider the case. Sharp ran against former Labour Minister of Justice Jack Straw in the general election earlier this month, but lost.
"A succession of home secretaries refused to halt Gary's extradition despite overwhelming medical evidence that he would suffer disproportionately, owing to Asperger's syndrome and ongoing mental health deterioration, if he were sent abroad where he would be at real risk of suicide," Sharp said.
McKinnon, who went by the name "Solo," says didn't harm the systems. The US military alleges that McKinnon deleted critical files from its computers, which hampered its efforts after the 11 September 2001 attacks.