An influential group of MPs has told the home secretary that he should stop the extradition of Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon on compassionate grounds.
The Home Affairs Select Committee came to the conclusion after hearing evidence from the hacker's mother, Janis Sharp, on Tuesday 10 November, that McKinnon's mind was too fragile to withstand extradition to face US prosecutors on hacking charges.
"Because of Mr McKinnon's precarious state of mental health, the committee is of the view that he should not be extradited to the USA and that you should exercise your discretion in this case," said Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, in a letter to the home secretary.
Under pressure to show compassion for McKinnon, home secretary Alan Johnson told the committee on Tuesday that his only discretion to intervene was under the Human Rights Act. He was considering whether the Act gave him that power in respect of McKinnon's mental health.
The home secretary had already refused to prevent McKinnon's extradition under the same Act in respect of McKinnon's vulnerable mental condition as someone who has Asperger's syndrome, as opposed to his deteriorating mental health.
Vaz insisted in his letter that Johnson had broader powers to intervene outside of the Act. This view was supported by expert legal opinion.
The Home Office subsequently insisted the home secretary had no general discretion to intervene. It also dismissed Vaz's call for a "comprehensive" review of the 2003 Extradition Act in respect of human rights.
Background to the Gary McKinnon case >>