For the past seven years, in bedsits in Crouch End and Bounds Green, north London, the Pentagon hacker and UFO buff Gary McKinnon has – according to his family and friends – been suffering one long anxiety attack. He's prone to regular fits of fainting and thoughts of suicide. He's written that he can't look himself in his eyes when he's shaving in case the sight of himself sets the spiral off. He jumps out of his skin if someone touches him by surprise. I've met him sporadically during these years and can vouch that he's a chainsmoking, terrified shell.
"I'm walking down the road and I find I can't control my own legs," he has told me. "And I'm sitting up all night thinking about jail. About male rape. An American jail. I'm only a little nerd … My life is like walking through a world you know is probably going to end."
And yesterday, at 10am, it did. The high court ruled that extradition to America was "a lawful and proportionate response to Gary McKinnon's offending". It is unlikely that anything will stop it now. How did he become, in the eyes of US prosecutors, the man who committed "the biggest US military hack of all time"? And does he deserve his fate?