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Hacker 'no longer a suicide risk'

Computer hacker Gary McKinnon would no longer pose a serious suicide risk if extradited to the United States, a medical expert has said.

Professor Declan Murphy's latest assessment that the risk of suicide could be managed is significantly different from his view three years ago that Mr McKinnon would require one-to-one observation to avoid a serious suicide bid.

The development could pave the way for Home Secretary Theresa May to authorise Mr McKinnon's extradition to the US to face trial for hacking into military computers 10 years ago.

In his assessment, which was handed to the Home Office last month and broadcast on Channel 4 News, Prof Murphy wrote: "We judge the risk of suicide to be moderate.

"The risk of actual self-harm could be ameliorated by regular contact with mental health professionals and with supportive counselling and listening services of the type that are available within UK prisons."

He added that Mr McKinnon "did not express significant hopelessness or helplessness" and his "suicide plans are not well formulated", the programme reported.

But the psychologist's latest assessment, ordered by the Home Office, was formed despite him being denied any access to Mr McKinnon since his original assessment for the Briton's legal team three years ago, it added.

In 2009 he wrote: "If Mr McKinnon is deported to the United States of America he will require (in my opinion) continual observation on a one-to-one basis during that time period, and for the rest of his incarceration.

"If this does not happen he is likely to make a serious attempt at suicide."

He warned: "Mr McKinnon stated that he would kill himself... He now has a fixed idea, which is currently unshakeable, that his best outcome is to take his own life if deported."

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