Gary McKinnon was last night given dramatic fresh hope in his fight against extradition.
A High Court judge ruled Alan Johnson may have acted unlawfully by failing to halt the surrender of the Asperger's sufferer to U.S. authorities.
Mr Justice Mitting's intervention could bring an end to Gary's six-year ordeal and finally halt his unjust treatment by the Home Secretary and the Government.
Gary with his mother Janis, who said she was 'overwhelmed' by the news
The judge ordered a full judicial review of the case, which will not be heard before April or May this year.
Had he turned down Gary's request for a review, the hacker could have been on a plane to the U.S. - where he faces 60 years in jail - by the end of this month.
Legal proceedings are now almost certain to drag on beyond the General Election, raising optimism among Gary's supporters that the Tories will halt the extradition if they win.
Mr Justice Mitting ruled sending Gary to face U.S. court could be unlawful
Tory justice spokesman David Burrowes, who is also Gary's MP, said he would 'expect' a future Conservative home secretary to stop the removal process.
Gary's mother, Janis Sharp, said: 'I am totally overwhelmed and delighted by the news.
'We have always said it only needed one good person to see the truth of Gary's position and this judge has proved to be that person.
'I have just told Gary the news and he said, "I am shocked - I can't believe it".
'It's a fantastic start to 2010 and we as a family are absolutely thrilled and so relieved.'
The breakthrough centres on medical evidence compiled by consultant psychiatrist Professor Jeremy Turk which was submitted to Mr Johnson last year.
The NHS psychiatrist warned that, because of his mental condition, suicide was an 'almost certain inevitability' should Gary be extradited.
He added that Gary - whose case has been supported by a Daily Mail campaign since July last year - has a 'fixed psychological conviction that he will kill himself in preference to being extradited'.
Despite the disturbing nature of the report, Mr Johnson ruled in November that extraditing Gary would not breach Labour's own Human Rights Act.
But, in papers handed down yesterday, Mr Justice Mitting said this decision may have been illegal, and must be reconsidered by a divisional court.
The judge said the case raised 'stark and simple issues' - including whether the unchallenged evidence of Professor Turk that suicide will be an 'almost certain inevitability' required Mr Johnson to 'refuse to surrender' Gary to the U.S.
He also questioned whether Professor Turk's opinion amounted to a 'fundamental change in the circumstances' considered by the courts and Mr Johnson - the grounds upon which extradition can be halted even at a very late stage.
Granting Gary's application for the judicial review, Mr Justice Mitting concluded: 'Both issues are arguable; and if the answer to both is affirmative, it is arguable that [Mr Johnson's] decision not to refuse surrender was unlawful'.
He granted Gary's legal team and the Home Office several months to prepare for the hearing in April or May.
Even if Gary were to lose, he would have 28 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, plus a last-ditch hearing in Europe.
This makes it near inevitable the case will not be concluded before the last possible date for the General Election - June 3.
The Tories have said they would review the 2003 Extradition Act, which they believe treats British citizens unfairly.
Mr Burrowes said: 'My view is any home secretary looking at the medical evidence would make the fair and just decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon.
'I hoped Alan Johnson would do that and I would expect any future home secretary - and if that was a Conservative home secretary - to take the just decision not to extradite Gary.'
The Enfield Southgate MP added: 'Alan Johnson should see the writing on the wall from the court and accept that he was wrong to ignore the new and compelling medical evidence.
'He should save Gary the agony of a continued legal battle and stop the extradition now.'
Gary's solicitor Karen Todner said she was 'delighted' with the breakthrough.
She called on the Home Secretary to review his decision and to appeal to President Obama to withdraw the application for extradition.
LibDem leader Nick Clegg said: 'This is heartening news for Gary McKinnon and all of us who have been campaigning on his behalf.
'Even now the Prime Minister and Home Secretary could step in to spare Gary McKinnon from this ordeal by ensuring that he is instead tried in a British court.'
Gary has lived with the threat of extradition since hacking into 97 NASA and Pentagon computers between 2001 and 2002 looking for evidence of 'little green men'.
The U.S. government first filed a request for his extradition in 2004.
Click to view image: 'The genius hacker'
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