Shock and anger over McKinnon’s court defeat


Campaigners have reacted with shock and anger to the failure of the two latest legal bids to prevent the extradition of a disabled man to the US.

Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome, faces a trial for allegedly hacking into US defense department computer systems, and a possible sentence of 60 years in prison if convicted in the US.

But the high court rejected two applications for judicial reviews, one arguing that he should be prosecuted in the UK under the Computer Misuse Act, and the other that the extradition would breach his human rights due to its probable effect on his mental health.

McKinnon’s solicitor, Karen Todner, said the continuing attempts to extradite him were “inhumane” and an “affront to British justice”.

She said: “Gary is clearly someone who is not equipped to deal with the American penal system and there is clear evidence that he will suffer a severe mental breakdown if extradited.”

She has sent a letter signed by 40 MPs to President Obama, asking him to end the extradition process.

She will now appeal against the high court decisions, and could take the case to the UK’s new supreme court, and possibly the European Court of Human Rights.

The disability charity RADAR said the Home Office was potentially discriminating against McKinnon and failing in its legal duty to promote disability equality, under the Disability Discrimination Act.

It said the decision to extradite McKinnon had “severe human rights implications”.

Liz Sayce, chief executive of RADAR, said: “RADAR is shocked by this decision. Extradition should be reserved for people charged with very serious crimes.

“This is a totally disproportionate response to the activities Gary is alleged to have carried out.”

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, which has campaigned to stop the extradition and provided evidence to the high court, said it was “disappointed” and “angry” with the rulings and would continue to support McKinnon through his appeals.

But in an article in The Sunday Times, home secretary Alan Johnson said the court made clear that it would be unlawful for him to intervene and that McKinnon should be tried in the US, as his alleged crimes affected “critical” government security in America.

Johnson also said the court had upheld the Home Office’s conclusion that the extradition would not breach McKinnon’s human rights.

3 August 2009

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