The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon will not face any criminal charges.
McKinnon, who has faced uncertainty over charges and extradition for the past ten years after he accessed the Pentagon network in search of evidence of aliens, learned this summer that he would not face extradition.
Announcing its decision on the same day as his mother Janis Sharp's birthday, the CPS said that the chances of a successful conviction were 'not high'. A joint statement by director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC and Mark Rowley QPM, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said that the reason not to convict McKinnon in the UK were because 'most of the witnesses are in the US, as is nearly all the physical evidence and the bulk of the unused material, some of which is sensitive'.
It said: “The potential difficulties in bringing a case in England and Wales now should not be underestimated, not least the passage of time, the logistics of transferring sensitive evidence prepared for a court in the US to London for trial, the participation of US Government witnesses in the trial and the need to fully comply with the duties of disclosure imposed on the CPS. The prospects of a conviction against Mr McKinnon, which reflects the full extent of his alleged criminality, are not high.
“After consulting with the Metropolitan Police Service and the CPS and having carefully considered matters, on 4th December this year, US authorities indicated to us that they would be willing to co-operate with a prosecution in England and Wales if that would serve the interests of justice. However, they do not consider that making all the US witnesses available for trial in London and transferring all of the US material to this jurisdiction would be in the interests of justice given our representations and the reasons for the decision that the US was the appropriate forum as set out above. That is a decision the US authorities are fully entitled to reach and we respect their decision.”
It concluded by saying that against this background, the joint CPS/police panel recommended to the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police that he should not commence a new criminal investigation into McKinnon, and the assistant commissioner has accepted that advice.
Earlier this year, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that McKinnon would not face extradition to the US for a trial. In October, she said: “There is no doubt Mr McKinnon has been accused of a very serious crime but he is seriously ill. I have very carefully considered the medical evidence and have taken legal advice and have concluded that his extradition would give such a high risk that he would end his life that it restricts his human rights.
“I have come to the decision that extradition would not be appropriate. That is the decision I have taken [with] the evidence available.”
It is unclear if the US authorities will challenge the decision or press for further action.