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Mayor Boris backs computer hacker

PUBLISHED: 11:19 30 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:53 07 September 2010

Robyn Rosen LONDON mayor Boris Johnson has backed computer hacker and former Crouch End resident Gary McKinnon in the week he won permission to appeal the decision to extradite him. Mr McKinnon, 42, a former Highgate Wood pupil, was awaiting extradition

Robyn Rosen

LONDON mayor Boris Johnson has backed computer hacker and former Crouch End resident Gary McKinnon in the week he won permission to appeal the decision to extradite him.

Mr McKinnon, 42, a former Highgate Wood pupil, was awaiting extradition after being accused of causing $700,000 worth of damage when he allegedly hacked into US security systems from his Hillfield Avenue home in 2002.

In his Daily Telegraph column on Monday, Mr Johnson descri-bed Mr McKinnon's seven-year plight as a "last piece of neocon lunacy that needs to be addressed" and asked the new president, Barack Obama, to "sort it out".

"It is brutal, mad and wrong even to consider sending this man to America for trial," he added.

In August 2008, Mr McKinnon lost his appeal at the European Court of Human Rights, the highest court in the land, and the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, ordered his extradition.

Last week his lawyers argued that his late diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome in August was not considered in the original trials and his extradition could lead to his mental health deteriorating and possible suicide attempts.

And on Friday (January 23), his application at the High Court for a judicial review into the Home Secretary's decision was granted.

Mr McKinnon, who faces up to 60 years in high-security US prison, told the Ham&High: "I'm totally gobsmacked. I'm really, really pleased that a light has been shed at the end of the tunnel within our own British legal system.

"It's great to witness the fruits of the extraordinary efforts put in by my family, my legal team and my friends.

"Hopefully we've turned a corner and maybe one day soon we can have our lives back again."

During the judicial review, which will be heard at the end of March, Mr McKinnon's lawyers will argue that his extradition would be a breach of human rights and detrimental to his mental health.

Ms Todner said she and her legal team were "absolutely thrilled".

Janis Sharp, Mr McKinnon's mother, said: "We are overjoyed that the British courts have shown sense and compassion by allowing our son this judicial review.

"We have always been outraged by the Home Office's decision to have him extradited to stand trial in a foreign land where he would face an out of proportion sentence for what is essentially a crime of eccentricity.

"Perhaps now that Obama is in power in America, our world might really become a more compassionate place where consideration, a sense of perspective and individuals' human rights are brought to the fore."

Mr McKinnon's lawyers have also received confirmation that the director of public prosecutions (DPP) will review the case in the next two weeks, following Mr McKinnon's formal admission of guilt in a signed confession earlier this month. Mr McKinnon still denies damages.


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