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MPs Appeal For McKinnon

September 9, 2009

A cross-party group of senior MPs are to meet Home Secretary Alan Johnson to ask him to block the US extradition of Asperger’s sufferer Gary McKinnon.

Labour MP Michael Meacher, former shadow home secretary David Davis and Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne will cite human rights concerns.

The 43-year-old Londoner faces a trial over what the US claims was the biggest military computer hack.

He says he was looking for UFOs, but lost a court bid to avoid extradition.

‘Grave health risk’

Mr Johnson has previously said he could prevent an extradition only in very specific circumstances, none of which applied in Mr McKinnon’s case.

He added “the crimes he is accused of are far from trivial” and Mr McKinnon “should be tried fairly for them in a court of law and in the country where the impact of those crimes were felt”.

But Mr Meacher said based on a leading counsel’s opinion: “Not only has the home secretary got the power but he has the duty to intervene in an extradition case even after the court process has ended if there is a real risk of a human rights breach should extradition proceed.

“Gary’s medical condition is such that medical experts have concluded there is a grave risk to Mr McKinnon’s health if he is extradited to the US.

The aim is to appeal to the home secretary’s better nature
Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrats

“There is no reason why he cannot face charges in the UK for an act which took place in the UK.”

Mr Huhne said “the aim is to appeal to the home secretary’s better nature” but also said there “is now a clear legal view from leading advocates that contradicts the advice from the Home Office lawyers”.

“Given that Gary McKinnon has already confessed, he could be tried for his crime in Britain, which is where it was committed.”

‘We sit in hope’

Sabina Frediani, campaigns co-ordinator for human rights group Liberty, said: “The British public are behind the idea that extradition arrangements must incorporate basic safeguards before someone is shipped off across the world, away from friends, family and supporters.

“It is pleasing to see a cross-party group of MPs raising Gary’s case with the home secretary and we sit in hope of a change of heart.”

Glasgow-born Mr McKinnon admits hacking by accessing 97 government computers belonging to organisations such as the US Navy and Nasa, but denies it was malicious.

He also denies the allegation he caused damage costing $800,000 (£487,000).

He has always insisted he was looking for classified documents on UFOs, which he believed the US authorities had suppressed.

His supporters argue that when a crime occurs in the UK a British court should be able to refuse extradition.

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