MPs call for Nasa hacker to serve UK sentence

MPs call for Nasa hacker to serve UK sentence

Summary: Ten Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs have called for Gary McKinnon to serve any sentence he is given by a US court back home in the UK

TOPICS: Security

A cross-party coalition of MPs has called for Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon to serve any putative sentence in the UK.

The self-confessed hacker currently faces extradition to the US on charges of hacking 97 US military computers. He faces up to 70 years in jail if found guilty by a US court and, as it stands, would serve his sentence in the US.

McKinnon was recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a condition on the autistic spectrum.

Shadow justice minister David Burrowes, who is McKinnon's MP, introduced an early-day motion in parliament last Thursday calling for McKinnon to serve any sentence given by a US court in the UK, due to his medical condition.

"This House… urges the home secretary not to permit the extradition to the United States of Mr Gary McKinnon of Palmers Green, London, an Asperger's syndrome sufferer charged with computer misuse in the United States, until such time as she receives express assurances from the US Administration that in the event of his being found guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment that administration agrees to the immediate repatriation of Mr McKinnon post trial to serve any such sentence in the United Kingdom," wrote Burrowes.

Burrowes requested that the British government follow the practice of both the Netherlands and Israel in seeking assurances from the US that "nationals will be repatriated to serve any sentence imposed by the relevant United States court".

The early-day motion has been signed by 10 MPs from the major political parties, including Liberal Democrat shadow justice minister Chris Huhne.

Burrowes introduced the motion after attempting to table a debate on the extradition in the House of Commons on 16 October.

"Can we have a debate on issues arising from the extradition of my constituent Gary McKinnon?" asked Burrowes two weeks ago. "[McKinnon] is a vulnerable young man of little means who was, significantly, recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome."

The Conservative MP introduced the early-day motion after receiving a letter from security minister Admiral Lord West of Spithead, which said legal representations made to the Home Office on the grounds of McKinnon's medical condition had given the Home Office no basis for overturning the extradition order.

Burrowes's calls echo those of McKinnon's solicitor, Karen Todner, who has repeatedly requested that the Home Office seek assurances from the US that McKinnon serve any sentence in the UK.

The US has accused McKinnon of hacking into 97 US military and Nasa computers and causing over $700,000 (£430,000) of damage by deleting files. McKinnon has never denied hacking into US army, navy, airforce and Nasa systems, but denies causing extensive damage. He claims he was initially searching for evidence of extra-terrestrial life, and later found evidence of anti-gravity projects.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • The U.S should Grow Up & Get A Sense Of Humour

    Excellent that Gary McKinnon is finally getting support and hopefully some long overdue Justice.

    This one sided Extradition Treaty should never have been introduced.
    When Courts can treat allegations as facts without a trial having taken place, this is not Justice.
    The fact that even David Blunket (who signed the treaty in secret) has come out in support of Gary McKinnon is good news indeed.

    When Gary McKinnon committed the crime of computer misuse over six years ago whilst searching for evidence of U.F.O's, he was told he would serve six months community service as this was the sentence at the time for computer misuse.

    For the sentence to then become an extradition offence and a proposed sixty years sentence because he would not agree to their plea bargain, is nothing more than blackmail and vindictivness from a country that had no passwords or firewalls on their military computers.

    Gary was on a dial up machine in his girlfriends flat when he left cheeky notes on Military computers and also left his girlfriends email address behind.
    An idiot perhaps but definitely not a Terrorist.

    The U.S should Drop this case, grow up and get a sense of humour and start using Passwords & Firewalls.