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Campaigners protest for US hacker

PUBLISHED: 11:32 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:37 07 September 2010

A banner at protest

A banner at protest

Susanna Wilkey SUPPORTERS of Crouch End computer hacker Gary McKinnon gathered outside the Home Office on Tuesday to pile pressure on Alan Johnson to halt his extradition to America. Around 50 supporters were joined by a cross-party group of MPs, includi

Susanna Wilkey

SUPPORTERS of Crouch End computer hacker Gary McKinnon gathered outside the Home Office on Tuesday to pile pressure on Alan Johnson to halt his extradition to America.

Around 50 supporters were joined by a cross-party group of MPs, including the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, to voice their anger at the Home Secretary's decision not to stop the hacker's extradition, despite evidence of his serious and deteriorating mental welfare.

Conservative shadow justice minister David Burrowes, Labour MPs Kate Hoey and Andrew MacKinlay and Lib Dem Chris Huhne joined Mr McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp at the protest where supporters waved placards saying things like Uncle Sam versus Aspergic Man and Stop the USA bully.

Afterwards a small group headed to Buckingham Palace to present flowers and messages to the Queen asking her to intervene.

Former Highgate Wood school pupil Mr McKinnon, 43, faces up to 60 years in prison in the US for hacking into NASA and Pentagon computers. He said he was seeking evidence of UFOs.

Gary McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp said: "We are trying to make as loud a noise as possible about Gary's case because we are almost at the end of the road.

"Gary has huge cross party support from MPs and from people around the country but the cabinet is not listening and we do not understand why.

"Gary is under such a huge amount of stress and has been for the past eight years. You would not put an animal through all this. Why doesn't this government stand up for vulnerable people like Gary?

"Gary is absolutely terrified and he does not talk for days on end, he cannot take this level of stress."

The treaty being used to extradite Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's has been heavily criticised for favouring US over British Citizens.

Mr Clegg said: "We are told by lawyers that there is absolutely no reason that the government could not stop the process and try him here.

"The Liberal Democrats have sounded the alarm saying this treaty is wrong and Gary McKinnon's extradition must be stopped.

"We all need to campaign right up to the end."

Psychiatrists warned that Mr McKinnon would kill himself rather than be extradited but Mr Johnson ignored their evidence, insisting he had no power to intervene.

The hacker's lawyers have now filed an application for judicial review of the Home Secretary's most recent decision not to halt extradition and will hear in the next couple of weeks if they are successful.

Labour MP Kate Hoey said: "I have supported this campaign from the beginning. Gary McKinnon should be tried here."

And Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay said: "It is simply wrong that this man should be extradited. It would be a grave injustice.

"This daft extradition treaty is an offence to the whole of the UK. It should never have been agreed because it was not thought through.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming opinion of the public is that this man should not be extradited.


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