London's mayor has called for Barack Obama to halt extradition proceedings against Nasa hacker Gary McKinnon.
Writing in the Telegraph on Tuesday, Johnson said that the extradition was "one last piece of neocon lunacy that needs to be addressed," following the order for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and the US stopping extraordinary rendition and water-boarding.
Johnson makes the case that McKinnon is not a terrorist, that he was able to get into the US military systems easily due to blank passwords, and that he should not be persecuted simply because he believes in UFOs. Johnson adds that McKinnon's Asperger's has also not been taken into account.
Johnson is absolutely right. Guantanamo Bay was, and is, a travesty, and should be a stain on the conscience of both the US and the UK governments, and everybody who was complicit in setting up and running that torture camp.
Persecuting Gary McKinnon, a UFO hunter who managed to break into US military networks because, in his words, the "security was crap", would achieve nothing, and merely shows the inadequacy of the current non-reciprocal extradition arrangements the UK has with the US. A jail term of up to 70 years in a "supermax" maximum security prison would be a completely disproportionate punishment.
The mayor has long been a critic of the extradition treaty that the UK has with the US, which essentially means that US prosecutors are not required to produce prima facie evidence to support claims that a defendent should be extradited to the US. As a Conservative MP he led an early day motion against the extradition of the Natwest Three to face charges of embezzlement linked to Enron. McKinnon approached Johnson in 2005 to talk about his impending extradition.
It remains to be seen whether Barack Obama will do the right thing and turn McKinnon over to UK prosecutors, to be tried under UK law. I'd imagine Obama is fairly busy at the moment, but I hope Johnson's call has an effect.