Campaigners protest to stop hacker's extradition
PUBLISHED: 13:56 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:22 07 September 2010
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Campaigners gathered outside the Home Office on Tuesday in support of the computer hacker facing 60 years behind bars in a US jail. Gary McKinnon, 42, last week lost his appeal to appear before the European Court of Human Rights to prevent his extradition
Campaigners gathered outside the Home Office on Tuesday in support of the computer hacker facing 60 years behind bars in a US jail.
Gary McKinnon, 42, last week lost his appeal to appear before the European Court of Human Rights to prevent his extradition to the US for allegedly causing £700,000 of damage when he hacked into US military systems from his Crouch End home in 2002.
His lawyer's claims that the process infringed on his human rights was rejected.
Now Mr McKinnon's family and friends have launched a last-ditch bid to have him tried in the UK.
Around 40 people of all ages turned out to pledge their support with placards and specially-designed T-shirts emblazoned with the face of Mr McKinnon, a former Highgate Wood School pupil.
They are calling on Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to intervene so that he can be tried in a UK court, where his lawyer has indicated he will plead guilty to some of the charges.
Mr McKinnon's girlfriend, Lucy Clarke, also handed in a letter on behalf of his mother, Janis Sharp.
Miss Clarke said: "People from all walks of life have joined this protest. We are very concerned for Gary's well-being. He's been very distressed. He is just shattered and disappointed. He may be sent away any minute now.
"The point of the protest is to show support for Gary. What happened to Gary could have happened to anybody."
Deborah Hollingsworth, a friend of Mr McKinnon for 13 years, said: "It is just wrong. We have just expected it to go differently at every step. It's looking pretty bleak."
Olivia O'Reilly, who has known Mr McKinnon all her life, travelled from Ireland to join the protest.
She said: "It's unbelievable to see how his own country can turn him down. I'm very upset, to send him away for 60 years is quite devastating and is very hard to deal with."
Mrs Sharp, 59, said: "Gary hasn't spoken to anyone in days. I'm really scared. It's like a surreal nightmare."
His father, Charles, who travelled from Glasgow to join the group, said: "I'm hoping Gary stays here and gets a fair trial. I'm so worried about him. We've just got to keep trying."
Mr McKinnon, who currently lives in Enfield with his family, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome two weeks ago in a shock twist to the high-profile case. But the medical evidence was not enough to sway last Thursday's judgement.
Mr McKinnon's lawyer, Karen Todner, said: "The offences for which our client's extradition is sought were committed on British soil and we maintain that any prosecution of our client ought therefore to be carried out by the appropriate British authorities."
Ms Todner argues that if extradited and convicted, McKinnon should serve his sentence here.