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Protest outside Embassy for hacker

PUBLISHED: 16:37 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:27 07 September 2010

Campaigners for Gary McKinnon

Campaigners for Gary McKinnon

By Robyn Rosen A second demonstration in support of computer hacker Gary McKinnon drew a crowd of more than 100 supporters. Mr McKinnon, 42 and a former Highgate Wood School pupil, has been accused of causing $700,000 worth of damage when he hacked into U

By Robyn Rosen

A second demonstration in support of computer hacker Gary McKinnon drew a crowd of more than 100 supporters.

Mr McKinnon, 42 and a former Highgate Wood School pupil, has been accused of causing $700,000 worth of damage when he hacked into US systems in 2002.

In August, Mr McKinnon, who had been diagnosed with Aspergers' syndrome just days before his trial, lost his final appeal to avoid extradition to the US and a possible 60 years in jail.

The Grosvenor Square demonstration outside the US Embassy on Sunday was organised by the London Autistic Rights Movement to pressure the Home Secretary to stop the extradition and have him tried in the UK.

Anya Ustazewski, committee member at the movement, said: "The reason we support Gary is that we can empathise with his situation. We read about his case and wanted to help by bringing more attention to his case through the protest."

Wilson Sharp, 60, Mr McKinnon's stepfather, said: "The demonstration went pretty well. Gary has been very anxious and depressed. He has just been moping around at the moment. They could take him at any moment.

"It's been four weeks since he lost his appeal and we think they're waiting for the American elections to be over so there is no embarrassment.

"But the fact that they are waiting is a plus, I think. I'm always hopeful but at the same time I don't have much faith in the justice system."

Lucy Clarke, Mr McKinnon's girlfriend, said: "All his friends and family came. I'm really scared of getting my hopes up - we have been let down so many times.

"I've been a nervous wreck the past few weeks. I'm just waiting for the phone to ring.

"Gary is no better, he is very anxious and won't talk to anybody. I'm worried about his health. He is suffering with anxiety attacks and chest pains."

The hacking offence took place in Mr McKinnon's Crouch End home.

He admitted looking at some of America's most sensitive information, but argued he was conducting research into UFOs.

This is the second time people have come together to publicly show their support for him.

On September 2, dozens of supporters gathered at a protest outside the Home Office where his mother, Janis Sharp, handed a personal letter to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Meanwhile, a portrait of Mr McKinnon painted by an autistic artist will be on display at an art exhibition.

The painting, by artist Rozagy, will be part of the Autism Research Centre's autism, art and music evening on Sunday, hosted by Jools Holland at the Savoy Theatre.

A Home Office spokesman said this week: "Further representations have been received from Mr McKinnon's solicitors against his surrender to the USA and these are receiving consideration."

Investigations by the Ham&High shed no further light on a possible date of Mr McKinnon's extradition.

The US Embassy referred to the Home Office, who initially passed responsibility to the Met police.

After further enquiries and the issue being passed back to the Home Office, a spokesman finally said: "Gary McKinnon's lawyers have made statutory representations to the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to try to prevent his extradition to the US.

"She is currently speculating on her decision.

"No date has yet been set for Mr McKinnon's extradition.

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