MPs Join Protest Over McKinnon Extradition

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

The Liberal and Conservative leaders protest outside the Home Office, while the Home Secretary says hacker Gary McKinnon must face charges

The Home Secretary said that hacker Gary McKinnon must face charges, although the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and the Conservative shadow justice minister David Burrowes join protests outside his office against McKinnon’s extradition to the US.

Alan Johnson told the home affairs committee that McKinnon would be treated fairly, but must answer the charges against him: “The fact that I stopped the clock once should be a clue in terms of my absolute determination to ensure Gary McKinnon is treated fairly,” he told the panel. “He is charged with very serious offences and he has to answer to those charges.”

McKinnon’s treatment exposed the unfairness of the extradtion treaty between the UK and the US, Mr Clegg told the Daily Telegraph: “This treaty is wrong and Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the USA must be stopped. The Government can change this.”

Mr Clegg joined about fifty people protesting outside the Home Office, including Labour minister Keith Vaz, former Labour minister Kate Hoey, as well as Conservative David Burrowes – who is also McKinnon’s MP, and McKinnon’s mother Janis Sharp.

The protesters have sent a letter to the Queen complaining that the royal prerogative – which overrides parliament – has been misused to set up secret terms in the extradition treaty under which McKinnon could be sent to the US. “I am sure the queen would not have knowingly sold out her own citizens,” Janis Sharp told Computer Weekly.

UFO enthusiast McKinnon hacked into US military and government computers in 2001, causing a level of damage which McKinnon’s supporters dispute.

The hacker has the autistic condition Asperger’s syndrome, and his mother says he has become suicidal during the case and would be likely to kill himself if he were extradited to the US.

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The case has been passed to a judicial review which should report by 24 December, and McKinnon’s supporters have said they will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if that is refused.