Gary McKinnon must face US trial, home secretary tells parliament

Home secretary Alan Johnson has said the US is the proper place for self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon to be tried, scotching any further hopes that the...

Home secretary Alan Johnson has said the US is the proper place for self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon to be tried, scotching any further hopes that the government will stop the extradition of McKinnon to face charges of breaking into Pentagon computers.

In an urgent parliamentary debate Johnson said that it was right to proceed with the extradition, but that there was still time for further legal challenges within the judicial process.

He said McKinnon's state of mind, said to be suicidal, was regrettable, but not grounds for not extraditing him under Article Three of the European Declaration of Human Rights, which says no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Johnson said his decision had not been made lightly, but it was not the job of the home secretary to be popular.

He said any disparity between US and UK grounds under which the countries could ask for an extradition was academic because McKinnon had already admitted to many of the alleged actions.

Johnson said the present extradition treaty between the UK and the US had never prevented the UK from receiving a suspect that it asked for. He said the UK had extradited 30 UK citizens under the agreement.

McKinnon, 41, suffers from Asperger's syndrome, an autistic condition. He admitted hacking Pentagon and other US federal computers between 2001 and 2002 following his arrest in 2003. He claimed to be looking for details of alien energy technology he suspected the US was withholding from the world.

The US claims he entered and deleted information and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage. McKinnon admits to hacking the systems, but denies causing any damage.

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