Gary McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp, has expressed confidence that David Cameron will tell US President Barack Obama her son can remain in the UK, following a direct appeal to Downing Street.
Sharp recently made a trip to the Prime Minister’s residence to appeal for a decision to allow her son to remain in the UK, after a lengthy extradition battle.
“I am confident that David Cameron will inform President Obama that the British Government has ruled Gary will remain in the UK and will be tried here if need be, just as other alleged British hackers accused of much more serious crimes have,” Sharp said to TechEye.
“President Obama has already stated in the first joint worldwide press conference with David Cameron, that because of the special relationship between our two countries, an appropriate solution would be found with regards to Gary.”
US authorities intended to extradite McKinnon following his hacking into the Pentagon and NASA. However, McKinnon, who has Asperger’s, has fought extradition over a ten year period, though no decision has yet been made about his fate.
With a final ruling to be made this summer, the extradition agreement between the UK and US has been questioned in Parliament, with the case of Richard O’Dwyer adding to the debate.
Speaking with TechEye, Sharp talked of her campaign against her son’s extradition, which culminated in a march on Downing Street.
“I feel that by going in person to Downing Street it reminds everybody, not just Downing Street, that Gary has been under intolerable mental stress every moment of every day for ten years,” Sharp said.
A letter addressed directly to the PM wanted to point out "Gary did in fact meet the bar to refuse extradition according to existing medical report findings”. A copy of the letter is at the bottom of the article.
The letter was signed by a number of public figures including David Gilmore, Sting, Graham Nash, Julie Christie and Trudie Styler, who accompanied Sharp to Downing Street. A number of MPs and Lords also signed the letter “urging the government to look at the conclusions on extradition already reached by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.”
Sharp said that a meeting with Home Office Minister Damian Green has given her hope for a resolution which will see McKinnon stay in the country.
“A one to one meeting with Home Office Minister, Damian Green had been arranged for me at the House of Commons,” she said. “Although I am not at liberty to report what was said, I feel very optimistic of a good outcome.”
Sharp also backed calls in the Commons to change UK-US extradition laws, which have been labelled one-sided.
“American citizens are never extradited if they were physically in America when their crime was committed; they are automatically tried in America.
“Britain should have the same criteria, including people in Britain having the same right to contestable evidence which they can dispute in their own courts prior to any extradition being allowed to take place.”
Sharp provided a copy of the letter sent to Downing Street:
SIR – This Friday is Gary McKinnon’s birthday – the 10th on which the spectre of extradition to America has hung over him.
The British Government must recognize that our extradition relations with the rest of the world are out of kilter both with accepted practice in other countries and with the most basic concepts of fairness.
Since the Extradition Act came into force in 2004, there has been an exponential rise in requests for extradition from Britain. Yet Britain still does not allow for judicial consideration of the correct jurisdiction for trial. Defendants are almost totally unable to prevent extradition, despite a high likelihood of incarceration abroad, even where no charges have yet been brought in the requesting country.
Britain has a history of respect for principles such as habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence. Our extradition arrangements are a stain on this tradition.
We call upon the Government to look at the conclusions on extradition already reached by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and to commit itself to primary legislation in the Queen’s Speech.
The first duty of any Government is the protection of its own citizens.
Mother of Gary McKinnon
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC (Lib Dem)
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass (UUP)
David Davis MP (Con)
Dominic Raab MP (Con)
Zac Goldsmith MP (Con)
Caroline Lucas MP (Green)
Kate Hoey MP (Lab)
Hywel Francis MP (Lab)
Chief Executive, Fair Trials International
One of the NatWest Three
Julia and Richard O’Dwyer
Chris and Elaine Tappin
Father of Babar, facing extradition