McKinnon asks new government to halt extradition

The Nasa hacker's solicitors have sent a letter to the new home secretary Theresa May, asking for her to 'intervene and prevent' his extradition to the US
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Gary McKinnon's legal team has appealed to the new coalition government to halt the self-confessed hacker's extradition to the US.

The Nasa hacker's solicitor Karen Todner said in a Friday statement that she had asked the Conservative home secretary Theresa May to "intervene and prevent the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the USA".

McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger syndrome, hacked into 97 US military systems between 2001 and 2002 in what he claims was a search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. According to the US authorities, he caused $700,000 (£485,000) damage and should stand trial in that country. If convicted in the US, he could be sentenced to 70 years in a maximum security federal prison.

A succession of Labour home secretaries, including Jacqui Smith and Alan Johnson, refused to intervene in McKinnon's case. Johnson declined to halt the extradition despite fresh evidence of McKinnon being suicidal and on medication — a decision that will be reviewed by the administrative court at the Royal Courts of Justice next week.

Both of the parties in the coalition government have previously indicated their opposition to the extradition. The Liberal Democrats have explicitly called for it to be halted and the Conservatives have said there is a "clear argument" for McKinnon being tried in the UK.

"We hope the new Liberal Conservative government will act upon their previous public statements that it would be unjust to extradite Mr McKinnon," Todner said in her statement.

May has received Todner's letter, and "a response will be sent as soon as possible", a Home Office spokesman told ZDNet UK.

McKinnon was indicted by the US Justice Department in 2002 and has been fighting extradition ever since. His case has drawn significant attention to the UK's extradition arrangements with the US, in which the US can demand the UK extradite someone without probable cause, but the UK cannot demand the US do the same.

The former systems administrator's mother, Janis Sharp, stood as an independent candidate against former justice secretary Jack Straw in the Blackburn constituency in this month's general election. Sharp's candidacy, a protest against the then government's failure to intervene in the extradition, resulted in 173 votes to Straw's winning 21,751 votes.

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