Friday, 28 Aug 2009 15:54
By Matthew Champion.
The mother of a UFO enthusiast facing extradition to the US on charges of hacking into government computers has made an impassioned direct appeal to Barack Obama to intervene in the case.
Listen to Gary McKinnon’s mother’s appeal
Gary McKinnon has been told by the home secretary and director of public prosecutions he cannot be tried in the UK and he must be extradited.
The Pentagon accuses him of hacking into military computers in the aftermath of September 11th 2001 and deleting sensitive information, but Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger syndrome says he was just looking for information on UFOs.
Days before the 43-year-old discovers whether a final UK-based appeal is successful, his mother Janis Sharp revealed he is feeling suicidal over the looming extradition and stateside trial.
“He took betablockers and said for the first time ever he had woken up for the first time without chest pains and he felt relaxed for the first time ever,” Ms Sharp said at a protest outside the US embassy in central London.
“But he’s stopped taking those because he’s worried about the side-effects.”
Ms Sharp broke down in tears as she appealed directly to President Obama to intervene in the case and prevent his extradition.
“Please Obama,” she said fighting back tears. “Don’t let the first person ever extradited for computer misuse to be a guy with Asperger’s who was hunting for UFOs – a really good gentle guy who’s never hurt anyone and who would never hurt anyone. Please stop this extradition.”
Campaigners on both sides of the Atlantic are carrying a torch for Mr McKinnon. While US citizens require the establishment of probable cause before extradition can be granted, British residents like Mr McKinnon can be subject to extradition without these requirements.
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti told politics.co.uk: “This is about a big mistake of our government rather than the US government. All we want is the same for people in Britain.
“People forget that even if you could get a fair trial in another country, if you believe in the presumption of innocence you’ve got to understand that being taken from your home and your family and your lawyers and your friends and supporters, taken off to the other side of the world where you will be a fugitive offender, locked up pending trial – that’s a punishment in itself.”
Mr McKinnon will hear whether his appeal can be heard in the UK’s supreme court on September 3rd.
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