Tories argue for McKinnon extradition halt

Tories argue for McKinnon extradition halt

Summary: The Conservatives have expressed support for Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon, but have declined to unequivocably say they will halt his extradition should they be elected to power.In a statement sent to ZDNet UK on Friday, the Tories said that there was an argument for McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, to be tried in the UK.

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The Conservatives have expressed support for Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon, but have declined to unequivocably say they will halt his extradition should they be elected to power.

In a statement sent to ZDNet UK on Friday, the Tories said that there was an argument for McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, to be tried in the UK.

"The Gary McKinnon case is one where there is a clear argument for it to be tried in this country, and our system should take health issues into account before considering deportation," said the Conservatives in a statement. "We think that we should exercise maximum caution when we decide whether to allow the extradition of British people and that we should seek proper reciprocity in arrangements with other countries. Labour ministers have failed on this."

The Conservatives have supported McKinnon, urging home secretary Alan Johnson in September to halt his extradition.

ZDNet UK asked the Conservatives on Wednesday whether they would intervene in McKinnon's case, and halt his extradition, should they come to power after the general election in May.

The Conservatives indicated that they may look at UK extradition laws.

"We think that people are right to be extremely concerned about our extradition arrangements," said the Tories on Friday.

McKinnon stands accused of "the biggest military hack of all time" by US prosecutors. McKinnon admits accessing US military systems, but denies causing appreciable damage. He claims he was searching for evidence of extraterrestrials.

A Conservative government following the election is by no means certain.

The Liberal Democrats have gained ground on both the Conservatives and Labour since Nick Clegg's appearance on an ITV leader's debate on Thursday, according to the Guardian.

Fears of a hung parliament in March sent the pound falling, the Guardian reported.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. 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 McKinnon case is an interesting one, not least courtesy of the amount of knee jerk media reaction is has generated. I think the Tories have got this one right, and Labour have it all wrong. I don't agree for one minute with the 'Free Gary' campaigns that have been very vocal in demanding he's set free, he has admitted to hacking into those systems after all and has to face up to his responsibilities, Asperger's or not, aliens or not. But sending him to the US seems hugely disproportionate to the alleged crime. If all that is required is justice, then let a British court decide his fate.
    davey5