The House of Lords is to debate Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the US, as a new psychiatric assessment arrives
The House of Lords is to debate the extradition case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon this week, as the autistic 45-year-old faces the renewed threat of extradition to the US.
McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, has admitted to hacking into nearly 100 American military systems in 2001 and 2002, saying he was looking for proof of the existence of UFOs. He faces up to 60 years in prison if tried under the American judicial system.
The extradition was halted by Home Secretary Theresa May last year when the current coalition government took power.
However, the case has begun moving ahead again, with May asking for a new assessment of McKinnon’s mental condition by two government-appointed psychiatrists. McKinnon’s lawyers have objected to the government’s choice, arguing these psychiatrists have no expertise in Asperger’s.
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass has now called for a debate in the House of Lords on the case, in response to an appeal by McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp, who wrote personally to every member of both houses of parliament in an effort to win support for her son’s case.
The debate is scheduled for 23 March at 3 p.m.
Sharp disclosed further details of McKinnon’s medical history, notably that his mental problems go as far back as 1983. Some had argued that McKinnon’s diagnosis with Asperger’s three years ago appeared to be a mere legal tactic to prevent his extradition.
“On 10 February 1983 we were compelled to take my son to see a neurologist because of our grave concerns regarding the sudden deterioration in Gary’s mental health and the loss of his intellectual faculties, leading us to fear that Gary may have a brain tumour,” Sharp reportedly wrote in the letter.
Also currently battling extradition from the UK is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden on charges of rape and sexual assault.
In his February ruling District Judge Howard Riddle rejected arguments that Assange would not get a fair trial in Sweden, where the press and public are excluded from sexual assault trials. This is despite the Swedish prime minister recently calling Assange ‘public enemy number one’.
Assange hit back and denounced the decision as “a rubber-stamping process that comes as no surprise, that is nonetheless wrong.” Assange then complained that he has not been able to present his side of the story.