Gary McKinnon: ‘no reason to stop his extradition’
Computer hacker’s family and lawyers shocked at decision of ‘cold-hearted’ Alan Johnson
The last-ditch appeal by computer hacker Gary McKinnon not to be extradited to the United States, where he faces ten years in jail for hacking into military and Nasa computers and causing $700,000 worth of damage, has been dismissed by Home Secretary Alan Johnson.
McKinnon, 43, who has always admitted the 2002 hacking but explained that he was looking for evidence of UFOs not military secrets, has Asperger's Syndrome. His family fear he is a serious suicide risk if he receives a long jail term.
But they received a letter yesterday from the Home Secretary saying there were no medical grounds on which to block the extradition. After a lengthy series of failed appeals, it would now "proceed forthwith".
Johnson's decision has been met with a mixture of surprise and anger. One Westminster insider told The First Post: "I really thought Johnson was going to come through. It is hard to believe this is the man who many thought might make a popular replacement for Gordon Brown as Labour leader. Frankly, he's coming over as a cold-hearted bastard."
McKinnon's mother, Janis Sharp, said: "Gary is at risk of suicide, I'm extremely worried about him. This government is terrified of speaking up to America, and now they are allowing vulnerable people to be pursued for non-violent crime when they should be going after terrorists."
The Labour government and Johnson should "hang their heads in shame,"she said. "To force a peaceful, vulnerable, misguided UFO fanatic like Gary thousands of miles away from his much-needed support network is barbaric."
The eminent human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC told the Guardian: "To send a British citizen to the US, without any right to bail, to face 10 years in prison for a crime for which he would be unlikely to receive any custodial sentence if tried here amounts to 'cruel and unusual' punishment in breach of our 1689 Bill of Rights. The Home Secretary should not hide behind the weasel words of the European Convention when he should be following the law laid down by our own historic bill of rights."
McKinnon's lawyer, Karen Todner, said she had not given up hope. "We are going to issue judicial review proceedings. We normally have three months to do this but have now been given seven days to issue.
"We cannot give up because in some ways it's like dealing with a death row case, and we genuinely believe Gary's life is at stake here." ·
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