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Hacker wins celebrity support

PUBLISHED: 09:54 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:18 07 September 2010

Ben McPartland computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who faces extradition to the United States for allegedly breaking into their Government s computer system, has received some celebrity backing in his latest court battle. Trudie Styler, wife of rock star Sting

Ben McPartland

computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who faces extradition to the United States for allegedly breaking into their Government's computer system, has received some celebrity backing in his latest court battle.

Trudie Styler, wife of rock star Sting, jetted into the high court on Monday to support the former Highgate Wood school pupil and his family.

The 43-year-old former Highgate Wood school pupil is accused by the US government of causing £700,000 worth of damage when he hacked into the country's national security systems from his Crouch End home in 2002.

Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, is battling against an extradition order, which would see him face trial in the US and a substantial spell behind bars if found guilty.

Ms Styler told the Ham&High why she and her husband are backing Mr McKinnon's case.

"We have been involved for about nine months now. I feel, as a mother, that by the grace of God Go I - I would not let this happen to my children," she said.

"We feel it's totally unjust. The risk of him being extradited is so precarious to his health."

Ms Styler took up a seat in the gallery at the high court to hear an "unprecedented" application by Mr McKinnon to overturn a court ruling so he can be tried in this country rather than the US.

In applying for a judicial review his barrister Edward Fitzgerald QC told High Court judges the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had ignored his client's human rights when ruling he could not be prosecuted in this country back in February.

He said the US had exaggerated the damage done by Mr McKinnon when he hacked into their systems to look for proof of alien life.

The process of extradition, trial and serving his sentence would inevitably expose Mr McKinnon to "an avoidable and unnecessary risk of serious psychological suffering" with "all of the attendant disastrous consequences", the QC said.

Mr McKinnon was overwhelmed at the support from numerous celebrities and MPs. He told the Ham&High: "It is amazing. It is really surreal. I am the most hopeful I ever have been but that is scary in a way because the higher you go the harder you fall."

The stress of the seven-year fight to avoid extradition has taken its toll on Mr McKinnon's health. He said: "I am still having a lot of issues with palpitations and chest pains. I am treating it like a typical bloke would do and just trying to ignore it."

Gary's mother Janis Sharp, who has been at her son's side throughout the ordeal, along with his girlfriend Lucy Clarke, thanked Ms Styler and Sting for their support.

She said: "She has been fantastic and they are so supportive. It really helps that she will come and do this. She doesn't know us but she feels it is really important."

Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith decided last October to order Mr McKinnon's removal following a request from the US prosecuting authorities after previous legal challenges failed. Mr McKinnon has also asked for a judicial review into this decision.

Judges are expected to announce their decisions later this month.

A pop record, featuring Mr McKinnon singing with Bob Geldof, Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour and singer Chrissie Hynde has also been released this week to highlight his campaign. For more information visit www.freegary.org.uk.


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