PM comment boosts McKinnon's UK-sentence hopes

Gordon Brown has spoken publicly for the first time on the future of self-confessed Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon, who is facing extradition to the US on hacking charges

Prime minister Gordon Brown has spoken publicly for the first time on the future of Gary McKinnon, who is facing extradition to the US on hacking charges.

During prime minister's questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, David Burrowes, the Conservative MP for Enfield, Southgate asked: "Will the prime minister ensure that extradition arrangements are changed so that UK citizens such as... Gary McKinnon, are not routinely extradited, despite having Asperger's syndrome?" McKinnon is one of Burrowes's constituents.

Brown did not answer the question directly, but instead pointed out that the "UK and the US are signatories to the Council of Europe convention on the transfer of sentenced persons, which enables a person found guilty in the United States of America to serve their sentence in the UK".

This is the first time Brown has spoken publicly about the case of McKinnon, who currently faces extradition to the US on charges of hacking 97 US military computers. He faces up to 70 years in prison if found guilty by a US court and, as it stands, would serve his sentence in the US.

McKinnon has said he hopes that, in the event he is extradited to the US, he would be allowed to return almost immediately to the UK to serve any sentence. He is currently waiting to make his latest appeal against extradition, which is due to be heard on 5 December.

McKinnon's chances of serving his sentence in the UK were strengthened earlier this month when a cross-party group of MPs, including Burrowes, petitioned the prime minister to guarantee that McKinnon would serve any sentence in the UK.

McKinnon was diagnosed in September with Asperger's syndrome, a condition on the autistic spectrum. In his parliamentary answer, Brown did not refer to McKinnon's condition.

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