US Civil Liberties Union tells UK to defend McKinnon

The American Civil Liberties Union has called on the UK foreign secretary to review the "lopsided" extradition treaty to prevent people like UFO hacker Gary McKinnon being "unfairly" removed from their home country to stand trial abroad.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called on the UK foreign secretary to review the "lopsided" extradition treaty to prevent people like UFO hacker Gary McKinnon being "unfairly" removed from their home country to stand trial abroad.

The intervention came as UK human rights group Liberty stepped up its campaign for Gary McKinnon, an autistic man who faces up to 60 years in a US jail.

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a letter to foreign secretary David Miliband: "We call on the UK and US governments to review as a matter of urgency these unfair extradition arrangements."

If the UK wanted to extradited a US citizen under the 2003 extradition treaty, Anthony Romero protested, it must supply enough evidence to justify the request. Yet the US did not. This left "British citizens and residents exposed to the risk of ill-founded extradition requests", while US citizens were afforded "basic constitutional protections".

"The tragic case of Gary McKinnon highlights the need to ensure that an individual's case is properly judicially reviewed and the courts have the power to bar extradition if the interests of justice require it," said Romero.

McKinnon's extradition is proceeding despite the UK's Director of Public Prosecutions stating that the only evidence the US had supplied to back its request being based on "hearsay" and not likely to stand up in court. The UK's high court heard last month that the charges against McKinnon were "extravagant" and "inflated".

"Will the British government stand up for the rights of the British people?" Janis Sharpe, McKinnon's mother, said at a demonstration against the extradition outside the US embassy in London yesterday.

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