Hacker Gary Mckinnon, who has just found out he will not face extradition to the US, and Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty
Today’s long-overdue announcement from the Home Secretary that Gary McKinnon will not face extradition to the US is a triumph for common sense and compassion, says Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, who has been campaigning for his release for the past decade...
Gary McKinnon is a vulnerable man charged with hacking into US Pentagon and NASA computer systems looking for evidence of UFOs. He has Asperger’s syndrome and Liberty has long said that, as the alleged crime was committed in the UK, a British judge should decide if he should face justice here.
Thankfully Theresa May has blocked Gary’s extradition on human rights grounds. Her decision comes after two Home Office-appointed psychiatrists warned that Gary would likely attempt suicide if sent for trial across the Atlantic. The news will be of huge relief to Janis Sharp, who has bravely fought for her son’s freedom over the last 10 years. She’s a wonderful campaigner; reminiscent of my good friend Doreen Lawrence. Both mothers’ battles started about their sons. But they grew into these remarkable wider campaigns that the entire nation got behind.
The Home Secretary has also accepted Liberty’s long-running argument for change to our Extradition laws. Extradition is designed to stop fugitives fleeing – not allow British citizens to be dispatched across the globe based on alleged offences committed in the UK. So we were delighted to hear Theresa May announce a change meaning British courts will in future be allowed to stop extradition where the conduct has happened here and it’s in the interests of justice to do so.
Being hauled overseas, away from your support network, is a punishment in itself. That’s precisely why no-one should be sent anywhere without a basic case first being presented in a British court. Mercifully Gary has been spared. This is a truly great day – both for Gary and his family and for rights, freedoms and justice in the UK.
Shami Chakrabarti is Director of Liberty