Ex-British PM urged deal on US hacking case: WikiLeaks

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Ex-premier Gordon Brown tried to strike a deal with Washington to allow a Briton accused of hacking into US military computers to serve any sentence in Britain, classified US diplomatic cables showed Tuesday.

Gary McKinnon, 43, who suffers from a form of autism, could face life in prison if convicted by a US court of gaining access to 97 US Navy and NASA computers in 2001 and 2002. He says he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show that Brown suggested in an August 2009 meeting with the US ambassador to London, Louis Susman, that McKinnon plead guilty in return for serving any jail term in a British jail.

But the intervention got nowhere, according to The Guardian, one of several newspapers worldwide which has been publishing the WikiLeaks files.

"In August, PM Brown, in a one-on-one meeting with the ambassador, proposed a deal: that McKinnon plead guilty, make a statement of contrition, but serve any sentence of incarceration in the UK," Susman wrote to US Secretary State Hillary Clinton in a cable dated October 6, 2009.

"Brown cited deep public concern that McKinnon, with his medical condition, would commit suicide or suffer injury (if) imprisoned in a U.S. facility."

In the cable, Susman warns Clinton that Brown would likely raise the case of McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, during her visit to London later that month.

Brown's government announced in November 2009 that it would not block McKinnon's extradition to the United States to stand trial.

However, the process was stalled following the election of Prime Minister David Cameron's government in May this year.

It promised to look again at the case, although it has yet to indicate when a decision on his fate is likely.

Cameron raised McKinnon's case in talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington in July, and said he was looking at the option that the Briton serve some part of any sentence in a British jail.

In September, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a review into Britain's extradition arrangements with the United States and other European nations.

© 2010 AFP

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