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Theresa May blocks Gary McKinnon’s extradition

Decision day delivers good news
Tue Oct 16 2012, 12:59

UK HOME SECRETARY Theresa May has blocked the extradition of NASA hacker Gary McKinnon, saying that it would violate his human rights.

In Parliament today May said that it was not an easy decision and that she relied on a lot of informed discussion, reports, and careful consideration.

"I have very carefully considered the representations made on Mr McKinnon's behalf, including from a number of clinicians. I have obtained my own medical advice from practitioners recommended to me by the Chief Medical Officer. And I have taken extensive legal advice," she said.

"After careful consideration of all of the relevant material, I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights. I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon."

May said that she will not allow the extradition to go ahead and will instead turn the decision over to the director of public prosecutions to see whether McKinnon will stand trial in the UK.

Gary's mother, Janis Sharp was optimistically confident about getting a decision in her son's favour yesterday and told The INQUIRER that government appointed experts had commented in his favour.

"Because of the new opinion from the Home Office [psychologists] I am optimistic, but need to hear the words that will finally end Gary's nightmare," she said yesterday.

This followed a report from the Home Office experts that said that it would be wrong to extradite McKinnon to the US, a country where he faces as long as 60 years in prison.

"He would need to be mentally competent to stand trial before the trial could proceed and in my opinion would need to be detained for a considerable period of time to determine whether or not he would regain the capacity to stand trial," wrote Dr Vermeulen.

"I strongly recommended that once he had recovered from his current ordeal, his trial take place in the UK... He is unable to properly instruct his solicitor. He will find it difficult to follow court proceedings."

The decision from May brings an end to ten years of tireless campaigning from Sharp and a lot of mental pressure on her son. In September, in an open letter, she spoke of the toll that it had taken on him.

"My only child has lost 10 years of his youth and has aged and died before my eyes. Ten years of being in a constant state of fear while fighting to stop my son Gary being taken from his home and family has made the days, months and years indistinguishable from each other, as hopes raised to the heavens come crashing down to Earth on a regular basis," she said.

"I am hoping with all my heart that Theresa May our home secretary, who I believe is a strong woman, will have in her heart the courage and compassion that will allow her to do what is right and to give my son his life back."

Karen Todner, McKinnon's lawyer, said that the right decision was made today.

Elsewhere, others hoped that the announcement will bring about a change in extradition laws and in the way that the UK treats its citizens.

"Today's decision is welcome, if long overdue. It's frankly a scandal that Gary McKinnon has been left waiting for more than a decade. This case has not made the US, or the UK, safer. It has however torn a family apart, and I hope Gary McKinnon and his mother Janis Sharp can start to rebuild their lives," added UK Pirate Party Leader Loz Kaye.

"If anything the US government should be thanking Gary - in the computer security industry, hackers who make their attacks public are seen as a blessing, as they expose vulnerabilities which can then be fixed. Equally long overdue is the decision to change UK-US extradition arrangements. I have been calling for this for months, and it has broad support. Hopefully now we can see British justice on British soil." µ



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