Gary McKinnon, the man accused of perpetrating the largest ever hack of a military system, will not be extradited to the US after the European Court of Human Rights granted him "interim relief".
McKinnon was facing immediate deportation to the United States, where he could face up to 70 years in prison, after the British House of Lords turned down his appeal against extradition. The appeal to the European courts is his last chance to avoid extradition.
"The presidents of the European Court Human Rights have granted interim relief to Gary McKinnon for a period of two weeks until 28 August, 2008 for the application to be heard before the full chamber," said solicitor Karen Todner in a statement.
McKinnon has admitted to hacking into American military systems but is arguing that extraditing him under terrorism charges is unfair, since he was merely looking for information on UFOs and did not intentionally cause damage.
His legal team will also argue that he may not receive a fair trial, since an American senator said that McKinnon should "fry".
The hacking took place between February 2001 and March 2002 and has proved a severe embarrassment to the US. Using a dial-up modem and commonly available software, McKinnon got into dozens of US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense computers, as well as 16 Nasa computers.
American prosecutors have apparently offered McKinnon a four year sentence if he pleads guilty but will press for 70 if he refuses.
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