Cameron Pleads With Obama Over McKinnon Extradition

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President Obama will “follow the law” despite pleas from David Cameron over the extradition of hacker Gary McKinnon

US President Barack Obama has raised hopes of a compromise over the extradition of hacker Gary McKinnon to the US, after Prime Minister David Cameron raised the matter during a visit to Washington.

The Prime Minister said he hoped that McKinnon might serve part of any prison sentence in a UK prison, as part of a deal with the US, while  President Obama said he hoped for a solution, between them suggesting that there are talks going on between the two countries, over McKinnon, who hacked into US space and military computers in 2001.

Talks behind the scenes?

“I trust that this will get resolved in a way that underscores the seriousness of the issue, but also underscores the fact that we work together and we can find an appropriate solution,” President Obama told a news conference with David Cameron, having stressed that he cannot get personally involved.

“Clearly there is a discussion going on between the British and the Americans about this, but I don’t want to prejudice those discussions.”

The US government has claimed that McKinnon’s hacking in 2001 caused it to shut down critical systems and networks, causing damages of approximately £435,000.

McKinnon, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, was apparently searching for information about UFOs and aliens. After indicting him, the US has pressed for extradition and trial in America, while supporters in this country have argued for trial in Britain. It has been suggested that he could face imprisonment for up to 60 years if tried in America.

Coalition changes tack

The previous Labour government argued that its hands were tied, in the face of criticism and appeals from Liberal Democrrats and Conservatives, and claims that McKinnon was a suicide risk. The extradition agreement between the two countries apparently does not allow for challenges on humanitarian grounds alone, and ex-Labour home secretary, Alan Johnson, said he could not block McKinnon’s extradition.

Cameron raised McKinnon’s case with President Obama during a meeting on Tuesday, and later told the BBC that he hoped the hackers sentence – if any – could be served partly in British jails.

“Our government has had the guts to stick up for a British citizen and raise the case with Mr Obama,” said McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp, according to the Daily Telegraph. “I’m just so proud of the coalition government,” added Sharp, who herself stood in the General Election. “Our hopes are that Gary can be tried in the UK.”

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