Mother of UK hacker in plea over US extradition bid

6th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The mother of a Briton who hacked into US military and NASA computers Tuesday attacked "ludicrous" attempts to have him prosecuted in the United States as lawmakers urged reform of extradition laws.

Janis Sharp said her son Gary McKinnon's life had been destroyed since his arrest on suspicion of gaining access to computers in 2001 and 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

US officials are demanding the 45-year-old, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, stand trial in the United States despite warnings that he could commit suicide if extradited.

McKinnon, from north London, admits the crime but claims he was only looking for evidence of unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

"It has destroyed his life and it has destroyed ours," his mother told BBC television.

"Here the Crown Prosecution Service said in 2002 that Gary was looking at six months' community service but then when the Americans took over suddenly it becomes 60 years."

She added: "Our argument is to try Gary here and to be given a proportional sentence. To go from six months to 60 years is ludicrous."

McKinnon has been facing the threat of extradition for the past seven years.

His mother made the plea a day after lawmakers in the lower house of parliament called on ministers to ensure better safeguards for Britons wanted overseas, including through an overhaul of the British-US extradition treaty.

They agreed to the parliamentary motion without a vote after a string of high-profile lawmakers supported it.

"Gary McKinnon should not be treated like some gangland mobster or Al-Qaeda mastermind," said Conservative lawmaker Dominic Raab.

The motion is not binding on the government but immigration minister Damian Green said it would be taken into account in a current independent review of British extradition arrangements.

McKinnon's family and lawyers have warned throughout the long-running case that he could commit suicide or suffer psychosis if the extradition went ahead.

But the US has continued to demand his extradition, alleging his attacks on the US Navy and NASA space agency computers led to repairs costing $800,000 (600,000 euros).

© 2011 AFP

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