Britain on Tuesday granted a posthumous royal pardon to computer pioneer and World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, who committed suicide after his conviction in 1952 for homosexuality.

Often hailed as the “father of modern computing”, Turing played a key role in breaking Germany’s naval messages encrypted in the “Enigma” code, an effort that some historians say ensured the early end of World War II.

He died in 1954 after eating an apple laced with cyanide, two years after he was sentenced to chemical castration for the “gross indecency” of homosexuality, a crime in Britain at the time.

Turing lost his job at Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency GCHQ after his conviction. A GCHQ spokesperson today said the agency was “delighted about the pardon” granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

Queen Elizabeth II has pardoned Turing for “a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory”, Mr Grayling said.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Britain in 1967.


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