Ten years of misery have been lifted, says Gary McKinnon
But while the Pentagon hacker speaks of his relief, White House calls Theresa May's decision 'frustrating'
PENTAGON hacker Gary McKinnon has spoken of his relief after a US request for his extradition was denied yesterday by the Home Secretary Theresa May. However, Washington has said it is "disappointed" by the decision.
McKinnon was saved by a medical report that warned of a high risk that he would attempt suicide if sent to the US for trial on computer hacking charges. May said that this would be a breach of his human rights.
The 46-year-old Asperger's sufferer is keeping a low profile as he continues to undergo psychiatric treatment. However, talking to the Daily Mail which has campaigned for his freedom, he spoke of his relief that he can now plan for the future with his long-term girlfriend, Lucy Clarke.
"I have spent the past ten years living with a dark and hollow feeling," he said. 'I have always thought that if things went against me, I would just have to end it all and take my own life. Now I just feel that I have been set free.
"I had no hopes for a future, no way of making plans, no thoughts of asking Lucy to share my life, no thoughts of whether I could ever have children or get work.
"It still does not feel real – but only now am I starting to feel as if a shutter has flipped up and lifted in my head."
While May's decision was greeted with cheers in the House of Commons, reaction from the US government has been muted. According to The Daily Telegraph, White House officials said privately that the decision was 'frustrating", but that there was unlikely to be any long-term damage to relations with the UK.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: "The United States is disappointed by the UK Home Secretary's decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon, particularly given the past decisions of the UK courts and prior Home Secretaries that he should face trial in the United States.
"We note that the Home Secretary has described this case as exceptional and, thus, this decision does not set a precedent for future cases.
"Our extradition relationship with the United Kingdom remains strong, as is demonstrated by the extradition of five alleged terrorists [including Abu Hamza] from the United Kingdom just last week."
As for claims that Britain's extradition treaty with the US is too favourable to Washington, the US embassy in London observed pointedly that this is the 11th time the UK has refused an extradition request from the US since the current treaty was signed in 2003: Washington has never refused a request from London since then.