UK Hacker Must Be Extradited to US: Court

Britain's High Court on Friday rejected an autistic British man's bid to avoid extradition to the United States to face trial for hacking into military computers.

Gary McKinnon has fought a long legal battle to avoid being extradited to the U.S. after he was charged with breaking into 97 computers belonging to NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and several branches of the U.S. military soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The High Court rejected his appeals Friday and ruled that he should face extradition. Judge Stanley Burnton said in his 41-page ruling that extradition was "a lawful and proportionate response to his offending."

McKinnon's lawyer Karen Todner called the ruling "hugely disappointing," and urged Home Secretary Alan Johnson to intervene.

"We have 28 days to review the judgment and will continue to explore every legal avenue until we achieve a just and proper result," she said. Todner said she plans to appeal the High Court decision, possibly taking the case to Britain's new Supreme Court and the European courts.

McKinnon's lawyers and 40 lawmakers have written to President Barack Obama asking him to prevent the extradition.

McKinnon's family and supporters have argued he should not be extradited because he has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, and could be at risk of psychosis or suicide if he is sent to the U.S.

Earlier this year McKinnon offered to plead guilty to a criminal charge in Britain to avoid facing a U.S. trial.

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled, however, that the case was best prosecuted in the United States, leading his attorney Edward Fitzgerald to argue that the service had failed to take account of humanitarian factors.

McKinnon's lawyers had asked the High Court to overturn the prosecutors' decision, as well as the British government's decision to extradite him -- requests dismissed in Friday's ruling.

The judge, Burnton, said the case should be dealt with "as expeditiously as possible," and that McKinnon could face extradition in September.